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 Australian series 'Border Patrol' 
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:19 am
Posts: 195
Location: Sweden
Post Australian series 'Border Patrol'
I've been watching an Australian reality series called 'Border Patrol'. It features the work of the Australian customs. In the episodes I've seen they always catch passengers for illegally bringing in food, seeds or wood into the country. They explain to the surprised traveler that their fig or carving or whatnot can contain organisms/seeds that can destroy Australian crops or even the ecosystem.

This is the part I don't understand. Is it possible to stop what organisms could have been on those figs by not letting figs through customs? Don't organisms spread with wind, floating in water, on peoples clothes, shoes and so on? And doesn't the traveler possibly release a bunch of the same seeds that would be confiscated by customs when he takes his first dump after leaving the airport?

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Sat Sep 13, 2008 11:58 pm
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Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:35 am
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Post Re: Australian series 'Border Patrol'
I haven't seen the program in question or know much about Australian food safety, but here's my two cents:

Figs have a special coevolution with their pollenators, one species of wasp to one species of fig, so I don't think the introduction of one of the species is the problem. Some wasps hibernate in the figs, so you could be bringing back both species with you, and that's the risk. They could carry a disease.

It's probably that the figs are of the same species as a domestic crop with the risk of a specific disease from "Country X" to the fig (or pollenator) which could devastate that crop. It's a case of mutualism, one needing the other to survive, so risk reduction is key.

As to the seeds after digestion, even if they did sprout, without a pollenator, there is no further offspring, so out-competition isn't a concern.

I don't know how well figs irradiate, but that would reduce some of the risk and is one disease/parasite/reproductive control method. If it's a quarantine-type thing, then it's more about the timing of a life-cycle of a disease/parasite in a host organism. (...and these being foods, aren't going to last long enough to make that likely...)


Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:08 am
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:19 am
Posts: 195
Location: Sweden
Post Re: Australian series 'Border Patrol'
You haven't missed anything.. she tone of that show is a bit... special.

There seems to be a Darwinian/biopunk parallel to cyberpunks 'Information wants to be free': 'If it can survive there it'll get there eventually(or go extinct trying).

- Splicer

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- Raoul Duke


Sun Dec 28, 2008 2:18 pm
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