The painkilling fields: Australia’s hidden $40billion poppy farms that produce codeine and morphine for the world
- The whopping $40billion poppy industry is in full bloom across Australia
- The crops harvested produce more than half of the world’s legal narcotics
- Opium is the source of narcotics including morphine, heroin, thebaine, codeine
Fields of opium poppies are in full bloom across Australia, which now sustains a $40 billion industry meeting more than half the world’s demand for painkillers.
Owned by Palla Pharma, the only Australian-owned poppy processing company, the crops will soon be harvested to produce legal narcotics.
Up until three years ago, Tasmania had a monopoly on producing the papaver somniferum plants but that had now spread into Victoria and New South Wales.
The location of the farms is not made public, as the poppies can also be used to produce illegal drugs.
The whopping $40billion poppy industry is in full bloom in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania
Papaver somniferum is the plant species from which opium and poppy seeds come from
Papaver somniferum is the poppy species from which legal painkillers such as morpheine and codeine is produced, as well as illicit products such as heroin.
Richard Sargood, who already farms sheep and cattle, decided to start growing the poppies to diversify his property.
Signing up to grow his own poppy farm, tucked away in the Riverina district of NSW, Mr Sargood is excited to begin harvesting.
‘It’s quite exciting and, hopefully, if we can keep it flowering for another couple of weeks it’ll build the opioid content and there’ll be a reasonable yield at the other end of it,’ he told Nine News.
Once the flower falls, the capsule is opened to reveal white poppy seeds that will soon turn black and be harvested
Once the flower falls, the capsule is opened to reveal white poppy seeds that turn black and can be harvested.
The capsule membrane contains the opium, which is the pain killer used to produce the powerful drugs.
Palla Pharma’s director of agriculture Michael Long told the publication that this is the third year they’ve had ‘excellent crops’.
‘We’ve got excellent climatic conditions that suit the poppy and we’ve seen for three seasons now we’ve had some excellent crops,’ he said.
‘We believe there’s a significant growth opportunity, particularly for morphine and codeine.’
How are drugs made?
Drugs come from different sources:
• plants — for example, cannabis, mushrooms, or tobacco
• processed plant products — for example, alcohol, or heroin
• synthetic chemicals — for example, ecstasy or amphetamines
The processes used to make drugs varies widely, but drug products have 2 main types of ingredients:
- active ingredients — the ingredients that biologically affect your body
- inactive ingredients — these generally have no biological effect. They include binding agents, capsules, dyes, preservatives, flavourings and other ingredients
Legally manufactured drugs usually list all their ingredients, so you know what you are taking.
Street drugs can contain almost anything as makers often add impurities to make them go further. You cannot be sure what you are taking.
Source: Department of Health