ACDC News – Issue 99-14

A new look on the web site.

You may already have noticed more color and graphics, improved readability and easier movement within the ACDC web site. The staff team redesigned it this fall and put it “on line” December 1. We hope that you enjoy it. As always, we welcome your reactions and suggestions.

And, yes, you can almost see the Center if you look in the far-left area of the campus photo. See those arms waving “hello”?

In Canada, a pioneering academic program in agricultural communications

Recently gained financial support that will help it develop at the University of Guelph, Ontario. A news report from the CanAdapt program says that a three-year grant will launch a drive to establish Canada’s only university-level, integrated communications program. CanAdapt is Ontario’s portion of the Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development fund of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

The initiative is being led by Owen Roberts, the University of Guelph director of research communications, course instructor and coordinator of an award-winning program, Students Promoting Awareness of Research (SPARK).

ACDC reference: Use Title search (Integrated agricultural communications program launched with CanAdapt support).

“The mouse that roared: health scares on the Internet”

Is the arresting title of an article published this summer by the International Food Information Council Foundation. It identifies several recent scares, urges caution and suggests ways in which the “cyber-citizen” can judge validity of such information on the Internet.

“While the Internet can be a valuable source for scientifically accurate health information, it can also be a frontier town with no sheriff for assuring the truth of the information presented.”

The article also summarizes research showing how the information channels from which consumers get most of their nutrition information (television, magazines, newspapers) are quite different from channels they consider most credible (doctors, dietitians).

ACDC reference: use Title search (The mouse that roared) for citation details.

Twenty-nine percent of U.S. farms now have Internet access

According to a recent report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Findings came from a survey conducted during June 1999. Internet access on U.S. farms has more than doubled since 1997 when only 13 percent reported access. Forty percent reported that they now own or lease a computer, up from 31 percent in 1997.

View online at:…/nassr/other/computer/fmpc0799.txt

After 40 years, food consumers “more sophisticated and skeptical.”

A report from the American Council on Science and Health notes that 40 years have passed since the cranberry scare of 1959 set off a national food panic. Several scientists cited in the article review progress in public understanding since then. Says one:

“In the past 40 years – having endured nearly a dozen similar food scares – Americans have become more sophisticated and skeptical about claims of ‘carcinogens’ in food.”

ACDC reference: use Title search (40 years ago this month) for details.

Communicating by name, shame and blame.

“Whilst open information is a laudable aspiration, and one all workers in communicable disease surveillance and control would aspire to, ‘name, shame and blame’ may not be the best, and is not the only way to get there,” according to a respondent on the ProMED web site The respondent says that commonly used approach may cause many countries to withdraw from collaboration in surveillance activities as they fear the economic consequences of admitting a problem. The document identifies other possible approaches.

Concerns among consumers about biotech label messages.

Here are some research findings reported at a conference during late October by Sylvia Rowe, president of the International Food Information Council:

  • Most labeling messages proposed worldwide would not be understood
  • “Contains genetically modified X” is misinterpreted and evokes concern
  • Many messages are “complex, unreadable”
  • “Do not contain X” puts down competitors
  • “May contain” – manufacturers should know

ACDC reference: Use Author search (Rowe) or Title search (Understanding the consumer) for citation details.

Professional meetings approaching.

Here are the approaching meetings of several professional agricultural communicator organizations:

December 14, 1999
Developing a marketing plan for the future of agriculture.” Workshop offered by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) at Radisson Governor’s Inn, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

February 10-11, 2000
Roads to the future.” Workshop offered by the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) for communications and member relations professionals involved in cooperative communications within the Midwest Region. Site: DoubleTree Club Hotel Riverport, St. Louis, Missouri.

March 7-9, 2000
Back to the future.” Annual meeting and professional development conference of Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in Orlando, Florida.

Best regards and good searching.

Please let us know if we can help you find information and/or if you can suggest documents that we might add to this collection.

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