People could have been forgiven last week for thinking we were in a remake of Orson Welles famous radio drama broadcast in 1938 of H G Wells’s “War Of The Worlds” that caused widespread panic as people believed there to be an alien invasion going on. Perhaps not the same level of panic over a single male fruit fly found jumping the ditch on board a yacht (hope he earned his keep), but enough biosecurity people, people in funny suits, and checkpoints to give the impression that there was some sort of outbreak.
The alternative was that the fruit fly was the threat as in the 1950’s B Grade movies portrayed giant bugs terrorising hapless humans…tarantulas are big enough thank you. But no, it was a single male fruit fly who probably didn’t intend coming to NZ! I’m not naïve or denying the genuine ‘worry’ that was portrayed – or for that matter ‘real’, but I’d like to examine the notion of ‘threat’ here just a little bit for the sake of shifting awareness around how our perceptions are intimately linked with particular invisible and taken for granted institutions. Still with me? Time to take the ‘red pill’ (you can the blue one later if you really want to stick with ‘ignor-ance is bliss’).
Lets be clear then – fruit is not food in this framework of understanding. Nor is it a biological entity vibrating with life-force. It is a ‘product to be consumed’. It has a monetary value to the economy. The fear, grief, angst, worry, concern and panic had nothing to do with concern for the fruit – but the potential for the industry to suffer and the ripples this would have for our ‘economy’ (which ironically has nothing to do with economising – http://www.thefreedictionary.com/economising).
When there is an experience of threat we naturally jump to idea of protection. So fruit quarantine measures are put in place – to protect the industry – not the fruit – there is a difference.
Mass graves might be dug for fruit (don’t think cremation would work – perhaps mummification?) but people were not conducting any ceremonies about the loss of life. In fact the call of ‘bring out your dead’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grbSQ6O6kbs could possibly fit – people happily handing over quite good fruit or made to hand it over just in case it might become part of the potential spread of ‘loss of GDP’. Food is not food people! Wake up and smell the monetary system.
I’m all for biosecurity – but it reveals the startling reality of how meaning is created by systems we see as almost natural but are most definitely constructed. The Monetary system is perhaps the most powerful and pervasive.
Actually the real worry is that there would be a FEMALE fruit fly – with egg laying ability…females…always defined in terms of their ability to reproduce no matter what the species. Thankfully he was a lone traveller – absolutely peachy.