Living without fruit flies: biosecuring horticulture and its markets



Publication Details

Phillips, C. (2013). Living without fruit flies: biosecuring horticulture and its markets. Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research, 45 (7), 1679-1694.


In this paper, informed by more-than-human and biosecurity literatures, I attend a neglected nonhuman considered a serious agricultural pest: the fruit fly. In addressing what it takes to live without fruit flies, biosecurity is theorised as ongoing, enacted achievement sustained (or not) by everyday and eventful interactions of heterogeneous spaces, strategies, and participants—human and nonhuman. Relations of fruits, flies, and people are explored through one vital attempt to biosecure life: Australia’s Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone (FFEZ), a tristate pest-free area established to protect commercial horticulture from the fruit fly. Fruit flies become problematised as their appetites and mobilities confound fruit production and marketing, and affiliated biosecurity controls. Making fruit safe enrolls policy and agricultural sectors, but also more dispersed agents (travellers, residents, trees) and management sites (primarily off-farm). Since its introduction, the FFEZ’s ongoing biosecuring normalised, with only occasional outbreak events. However, recent unprecedented outbreaks evoke questions about the FFEZ’s future status. In such eventful times, it is worth reflecting on what kinds of living are possible in biosecurity zones—for flies, for resident human communities, and for agrifood networks.

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