SIRC Media Watch Archive
Comment and Opinion – July 2001

The Fear of Acronyms. There is nothing more guaranteed to strike fear into hearts and minds of ordinary folk than a sinister, three letter acronym – a TLA. Familiar ones such as BSE and CJD came to represent all that is wrong with the food we eat, and also the increasing inability of scientists to allay our disproportionate fears. Greenpeace and other groups insisted that they were justified in routine vandalism directed at experimental trials of GMOs – the 'Frankenstein foods' produced by 'tinkering with nature'. And foot and mouth disease rapidly became FMD, compounding even further our anxieties and panics. Today, however, the TLA seems to be losing some of its neurosis-inducing impact. We now require extended three letter acronyms (ETLAs) in order that newspapers and our champions of nutritional correctness can maintain the required frisson of unfounded anxiety. And so we witness the impeccably timed arrival of 3-MCPD – a moniker guaranteed to unsettle even the most sanguine observers of media hype. Full story.