ACDC News – Issue 07-22

Surprising advice to researchers:  It is not important what is said.

We recently added a document in which Dr. Elke Scheurmann, University of Melbourne, offered that advice.  Speaking at a conference of the Cooperative Research Centres Association in Australia, she emphasized, “It is important what is heard.”  It begins with listening. Her presentation focused on ways in which researchers (including agricultural researchers) can improve their interactions with commercial companies.

Title:  Encouraging researchers to communicate in commercial terms
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Looking at food labels – across 30 years.

The ACDC collection has reached a scale at which it can serve as a fascinating and valuable tracer of trends.  For example, recently we entered into the collection a 2007 report, “Food-labeling poll,” from the market research department of Consumer Reports.  For comparison, we pulled from our collection “Consumer attitudes toward food labeling” a report of research during 1977 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The questions asked were not identical.  However, some revealing differences appear, in terms of what consumers find useful in labels.  For example:

  • In 1977, consumers rated these kinds of information most important in food labels and other shopping aids: dates on package, price, indication if frozen product thawed and uniform meat names. Food safety did not appear as an aspect of labeling.
  • In 2007, more than 85 percent of respondents agreed with statements calling for country-of-origin labeling of imported foods, label assurances that organic fish is free of or low in contaminants, permission for meat companies to label meat products as tested for mad cow disease, labeling meat and dairy products from cloned animals, and labeling milk from cows raised without synthetic bovine growth hormone.

Title:  Food-labeling poll
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Title:  Consumer attitudes toward food labeling
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Journalists paying undue reverence to scientific journals.

During a panel discussion at the 2007 World Congress of Science Journalists Pallab Ghosh, BBC, criticized journalists for letting themselves be “spoon-fed readymade copy” provided by scientific journals.  It makes them lazy, Ghosh argued, and allows a few powerful journals to dominate the media.  Other panelists defended the press release and embargo system used by some journals.  We have added to the ACDC collection a summary of the discussion.

Title: Embargoed “till when?”
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A unique rural photograph earned recognition

In the 2003 Commonwealth Photographic Awards program of the Commonwealth Press Union. We came upon this creative image only recently. Photographer Binode Kumar Das captured it during the rehearsal for a silent play in a rural village of India.  It featured three boys and several visual elements that represented peace, new beginnings and a hopeful world.

The photo earned “Highly Commended” honors in the Asia category of this international recognition program. You can view it within the photo gallery at:

“Survey shows farmers slow to embrace Internet.”

That headline in a September issue of the Reading Eagle (Pennsylvania) newspaper called attention to findings of a U. S. Department of Agriculture study among Pennsylvania farmers.

The report “showed that while 62 percent of Pennsylvania farms have access to a computer and 55 percent have access to the Internet, only 29 percent use computers for farm business.  In 2005, only 47 percent had access to the Internet and 27 percent were using computers for farm business.  At that time, 11 percent were purchasing inputs over the Internet and 7 percent were conducting agricultural marketing activities online.”

Title:  Survey shows farmers slow to embrace Internet

On food scares, recalls and consumer apathy in the United Kingdom.

“Public apathy has set in over the safety of the food supply due to the soaring number of scares and recalls.”  Results of a survey among adults during July 2007 led researchers to make that observation, as reported in Food Production Daily.

“Ironically, as the EU and UK regulatory and advisory authorities report soaring numbers of recall and safety reports in the last year, their effectiveness in terms of consumer safety seems to be diminishing as consumer apathy sets in.”

Title:  Companies need to regain public trust
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Help build a glossary of terms related to e-agriculture.

One is being created and offered online from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

“We have begun the glossary with e-agriculture related terms from several other glossaries,” according to the introduction.  “but the list is by no means complete.”  Organizers welcome additional terms and suggestions about existing terms.


Rural communicator activities approaching

February 3-4, 2008
Agricultural Communications Research Papers presented at the 2008 conference of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists in Dallas, Texas.

February 13-15, 2008
“Experience ICT Africa.”  Continental information and communications technologies conference sponsored by the NEPAD Council (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

March 9-15, 2008
“Global entrepreneurship: the role of international agricultural and extension education.” Conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE) at E.A.R.T.H. University, Costa Rica.

Fighting the battle for open minds.

We close this issue of ACDC News with an observation from J. Frank Dobie in his book, Cow People:

“Intolerance lingers more steadily than tolerance progresses.”

Do you have thoughts, examples or suggestions related to any topics featured in this issue? 

Please send them to us by return e-note.
Get in touch with us:

  • When you cannot locate information you need about communications, as related to agriculture, food, natural resources and rural affairs in any part of the world.
  • When you see in this collection interesting items you cannot find, locally or online. Tell us the titles and/or document numbers.  We will help you gain access.

And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications 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

Best regards and good searching.

November 2007

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