ACDC News – Issue 06-04


Are nano-foods a great hope? Or a next round of the “frankenfood” debate?

Nano-rice, nano-cheese and hundreds of other food and nutrition products containing microscopic-scale additives are in the research stage, according to a report by John Feffer of AlterNet, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He examined potentials of this new science, including possibilities for stirring public distrust over health and safety concerns.

“… with often unlabeled products in a largely unregulated environment, nano might fall into the same trust gap.”

Title: The evolution of frankenfoods?
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On images: “Frankenfood” most clever. “Factory farming” most powerful.

In a recent column, Dan Murphy observed that the phrase “factory farming” has entered the popular lexicon, “becoming in some journalistic quarters an ill-informed synonym for all of modern agriculture.” He offered two suggestions for U.S. livestock breeders, feeders, packers and processors:

•  Evolve toward more “enlightened” technologies related to livestock.
•  Change the terminology, perhaps to “managed production” as a better way to encompass the science, technology and animal husbandry inherent in raising cattle, pigs or chickens for food.

Title: Tearing down the “factory farm” fallacy
Archived 1/20/2006, at:

When the government contracts for information services.

A recent issue of ACDC News reported some concerns about government agencies (U.S. Department of Agriculture among them) hiring ghostwriters and freelancers. This matter touches on a related subject of contracts awarded by government agencies to public relations and advertising firms. You can see a list of USDA contracts/purchase orders awarded to public relations and advertising firms during 2001-2005 at:!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_10B?contentidonly=true&contentid=foia_orders.xml

“I feel that we as taxpayers are best served when the programs that have been funded for our public good are effectively utilized,”

Observed Warren Clark of CCI Marketing in a note to the Center. He called attention to case examples involving support for programs of the USDA rural development agency, including a branding effort, expansion of broadband and Internet service, and expansion of ethanol production in rural America. For your information, here are reports of two USDA media relations programs supported through contracts with commercial firms:

Branding change: USDA Rural Development battles lack of awareness
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Horizon Organic USDA organic standards media relations program
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USDA guidelines for quality of information.

You can view current USDA policy statements, including references to use of commercial sources, at sites such as:

USDA Quality of Information Guidelines
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Broadcast Media and Technology Policy
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How governments can help harness information for development.

A 1996 proposal to the World Bank by Eduardo Talero and Philip Gaudette identified five areas in which governments can help harness information technologies in developing countries:

•  Improve government efficiency, including better flows of information.
•  Set fair rules of the game.
•  Act as a catalyst in infrastructure projects to overcome barriers and meet the information needs of their societies.
•  Push the education agenda.
•  Jump start the private sector.

The authors cited examples of such efforts in nine countries.

Title: Harnessing information for development
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We face intimidating language barriers.

The Agricultural Communications Documentation Center contains information about agriculture-related communicating in more than 100 countries. However, most of the information is in English. We are sensitive, then, to the huge gaps in our coverage. Vikas Nath has described some of the language barriers facing efforts to close such gaps.

“Every day over two million pages are added to the Internet but there is very small content representation on the Net in the vernacular languages of the Southern countries. Statistics point out that over 85 percent of the content on the Net is in English, fewer than one in 10 people worldwide speak that language.”

Title: Heralding ICT enabled knowledge societies
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Communicator activities approaching

March 6-8, 2006
“Practice change for sustainable communities.” Conference of the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network (APEN) in Beechworth, Victoria, Australia.

March 23-25, 2006
Spring meeting of the Agricultural Relations Council in Memphis, Tennessee.
Information: Jeri Mattix Omernik of Rocky Mountain Marketing Communications at:

April 19-21, 2006
“Jazzed!” Agri-Marketing Conference and Trade Show sponsored by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Opera-loving sheep grow golden fleeces.

An Australian flock of merino sheep has produced a bale of the world’s finest wool, with help from opera. According to a recent Reuters news report, an Italian designer bought the bale for $232,500 (Australian) – or 357 times the normal market price for wool. Is that what one could call “value-added?”

According to the report, this special flock in New South Wales is kept mostly indoors in small groups. The sheep listen to music, including Italian opera and recordings of Italian singer Andrea Bocelli. They are fed a secret diet of grains and specially grown hay.

Title: Operatic Aussie sheep
Archived 1/26/2006 at:

Best regards, good searching – and keep singing.

When you see interesting items you cannot find locally or online, get in touch with us at Tell us the titles and/or document numbers. We will help you gain access.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas for the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communication documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or electronic form at

February, 2006


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