British Farmers Harvest Opium Poppies For Drugs (But You're Not Supposed To Know)

Poppies are in the line of usual suspects. Seen as a successful weed, the red-white field poppy (papaver somniferum) was criminalised in Af...

poppies opium afghanistan drugs

Poppies are in the line of usual suspects. Seen as a successful weed, the red-white field poppy (papaver somniferum) was criminalised in Afghanistan where for the past ten years, American and British troops have been fighting a 'war on drugs'. Namely, opium.

But I see a strange double-standard now as reports this month reveal Britain's farmers have been contracted to harvest a new crop of poppies to plug a growing painkiller shortage for the National Health Service.

The United Nations will release figures next month which are expected to show that the poppy crop has reached a record level of cultivated area: 166,000 hectares (410,000 acres). While over in Afghanistan, the same crop which Britain depends on is being destroyed in fear of drug salesmen.

Farmers in Oxfordshire, where the poppy fields are being harvesed, were asked for statements but the companies they worked for did not allow the farmers to talk. The Home Office also declined to comment. No-one wants to talk about the secret opium-growing program.

British MP Frank Field, Poppy Relief, found the idea counter-productive.
“America rules and we follow on behind them. It makes a nonsense of what this relationship is about, when you’re putting British lives at stake, not to be able to use this as a bargaining position with the Americans, to rethink a strategy which I think most people think over the years has failed, historically, has failed, why don’t we try a new tack?”

Field and his group Poppy Relief believe that Afghan opium should be legalised instead. Why not? It would benefit Afghan farmers, raise much-needed revenue for the government’s nation building efforts, and stop the opium from falling into the hands of the drug cartels ( Field also says it should be military strategy too.
“In Afghanistan we have chosen bombs, rather than brains. Anybody who would be thinking about how do we get ordinary people, ordinary farmers who see poppies as a cash crop, how do we get them to protect the backs of our troops, we would be thinking about how do we harness this crop, how do we pay them for it and how do we then use that crop to transfer it into medicines to counter pain.”

According to the Times, Britain has spent £290 million on its counter-narcotics campaign in the country and is planning to spend an extra £22.5 million next year.

Way to turn something beautiful into something so ugly.

+ UK poppy-growing program kept hush-hush


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