Pubdate: Thu, 14 Jun 2007
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2007 Southam Inc.
Author: Norine MacDonald


Re: Buying Afghan Poppies No Solution, letter to the editor, June 5.

Colonel Brian MacDonald claims that there is no global shortage of 
morphine. I would like to point out that the International Narcotics 
Control Board acknowledges that six countries -- Canada, the United 
States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia -- consume more 
than 80% of the world's morphine. That leaves millions of people, 
particularly cancer and HIV/ AIDS sufferers in developing countries, 
to live and die in unnecessary pain with little or no access.

The global supply and demand of opium-based medicines is a vicious 
circle. Due to endemic under-prescription and restricted supplies, 
many governments' official estimated requirements rarely reflect the 
actual need for opium-based medicines, such as morphine and codeine.

This under-prescription leads to serious errors when calculating how 
much morphine and codeine is needed for future years.

Given that the international manufacture of opium-based medicines is 
restricted by these official estimates, global stocks are 
insufficient to meet any increases in prescription levels.

The Senlis Council--an international policy think-tank -- has 
developed a village-based poppy for medicine model, as a means of 
bringing illegal poppy cultivation under control in an immediate yet 
sustainable manner.

This would replace the current destructive U.S. policy of forced crop 
eradication, which is driving poppy farmers into poverty and into the 
ranks of the Taliban. It is also wholly ineffective -- last year 
cultivation was up by 60% despite large-scale crop eradication.

Norine MacDonald, president and lead field researcher

The Senlis Council, Kabul, Afghanistan.
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