Opium - Criminal or Farmer

Tasmania, a island State of Australia is the worlds largest grower of opium for the Pharmaceutical market ( The Regional Institute Ltd – The Australian Society of Agronomy ).Anyone who has had major surgery or has a cronic pain condition will probably have been prescribed some form of opiate. I have, on several occassions, both after surery for a neck injury and at times prior to the surgery. As a pain killer there isn’t much better. If you do have a cronic pain condition, there is no “high” associated with its use, as it acts on the pain sensors. I have never experienced any form of withdrawal when I have taken myself of it. Doctors do prescribe it readily for obvious cronic pain.Why then are nations in Asia, and especially Afghanistan, singled out as criminals, when they too grow opium for the Pharmaceutical Industry. Is this another form of market control by the West, and or a way of criminalising a whole region in the eyes of the World.Granted, the illegal drug market should be combated, but wouldn’t the efforts of the International Community be best directed at the ligitimate growing and supply for the Pharmaceutical Industry, instead of the alienation of farmers. The Pharaceutical Industry has, and probably still does buy on the Black Market to avoid taxes and import duties, saving themselves Billions.I am not an illicit drug user and only use mediactions or remidies prescribed or suggested by my qualified doctors. I simply wonder at the counter productive War on Drugs, when fair trade for all farmers and Nations would achieve the goals of the Drug War quicker and without so much waste, of money and lives.the following is cut from the United Nations Daily Email News Diagest for

13th December 2010

OPIUM POPPY CULTIVATION SURGES IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA BY 22 PER CENT, UN REPORTS

Opium poppy cultivation surged in South-East Asia by 22 per cent in 2010, apparently due to the global economic crisis, with potential production value rising dramatically to $219 million, a $100 million increase over 2009, according to a United Nations report released today.

“Poverty and instability are two of the drivers which push farmers to grow, or sometimes return to growing, illicit crops,” UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Yury Fedotov said of his agency’s 2010 South-East Asia Opium Survey, covering Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

While progress has been made in reducing poppy fields over the past decade, the recent global economic crisis appears to have exacerbated the situation for poor communities and tempted many to enter the drug market. The rising price of opium over the last few years has also been instrumental in making its cultivation an attractive option for many.

In terms of cultivation, there was a 22 per cent increase between 2009 and 2010 in the region as a whole. Myanmar experienced the biggest increase in actual area with cultivation shooting up by 6,400 hectares (ha), or 20 per cent, to reach 38,100 ha. In Laos the increase was the largest in percentage terms, 58 per cent, increasing from 1,900 ha to 3,000 ha. Thailand’s small cultivation increased marginally from 211 ha to 289 ha.

While poppy cultivation in South-East Asia remains well below the peak figures of the mid-1990s, when it hovered around 160,000 ha, the year-on-year increase over the past four years has been relentlessly upward, the survey shows.

“While Governments have increased their eradication efforts, the potential opium production in 2010 is estimated to have increased by approximately 75 per cent when compared to 2009,” Mr. Fedotov said.

Beyond the overall larger areas cultivated in all three countries, yields in Myanmar shot up from 330 tons to 580 tons, levels in Laos rose by 7 tons to 18 tons and in Thailand they increased by 36 per cent from 3 tons to 5 tons.

In terms of eradication 9,135 ha of poppy fields in the region were destroyed in 2010, up by 85 per cent from 4,939 ha the previous year.

At country-level, the authorities in Myanmar cleared an estimated 8,268 ha, a 102 per cent rise from 2009. Eradication efforts in Laos dipped by 11 per cent from 651 ha to 579 ha, while Thailand succeeded in removing 278 ha compared with the 2009 level of 201 ha.

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