Praise For The Poppy

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 20 2011 @ 9:52am


Charli Carpenter repeats an oft-cited reason to end Afghanistan's war on drugs, much needed pain relief in the developing world:

[T]he need for analgesics like morphine far outweighs the available supply. In part, this is due to the fact that such analgesics are produced from opium, the sap of the poppy. Since the same plant extract can also be used to produce heroin, a significant amount of political effort is now being expended worldwide to actually inhibit, rather than encourage, opioid production. This fuels shortages of analgesics.

Jeremy Cherfas offers another aspect to consider:

One thing [Carpenter] doesn’t mention — and why would she? — is that poppies would probably be a lot more sustainable than most of the alternatives, needing less water and less land than, say, wheat or vegetables, and almost certainly displacing less local agricultural biodiversity.

(Photo: An opium poppy farmer watches as U.S. Army troops pass through his field shortly before a firefight with Taliban insurgents on March 14, 2010 at Howz-e-Madad in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. By John Moore/Getty Images)