The Island Where Opioids Originate
the MPR take:
The small island of Tasmania grows approximately 85% of the world’s supply of thebaine, an opium poppy extract used to make prescription opioids and all of the world’s oripavine, an extract used to treat heroin overdoses. However, pharmaceutical companies are pushing for regulatory approval to grow opium poppies for export near Melbourne due to concerns about crop reliability and consistency in an industry dominated by two manufacturers in Tasmania. In turn, these two companies are petitioning for the legalization of genetic engineering for poppies to develop varieties that are less vulnerable to weather or diseases, as well as being more concentrated. After the state Parliament in Victoria voted to authorize commercial growing of opium poppies, farmers and politicians in Tasmania are lobbing for the national government to not issue export permits for opiates grown in Victoria.
Now is the sowing season for opium poppies in the Australian state of Tasmania. Tractors chug up and down paddocks, pulling elaborate machinery that drills pairs of adjacent, miniature holes in the dirt, and then drops a dozen tiny kernels of fertilizer in one of the holes and a tiny poppy seed in the other.
READ FULL ARTICLE From The New York Times