Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Drugs, development and reality

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  • George Darroch,

    Excellent stuff. I'm glad to hear of some success in a sea of sorrow.

    The destruction of Afghanistan's opium crop is a legitimate human tragedy. We take it for granted that if we suffer a medical emergency, when we reach medical attention we will be given appropriate pain relief and we won't suffer in extreme pain. Yet most of the world lacks sufficient supply, and in many countries pain relief is almost non-existent. Pain relief is a human right. Given that there are only four families of pain relieving drugs, and the opiates are by far the most effective, expanding access to supply through appropriate channels should be an urgent priority. Thus far it hasn't been.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to George Darroch,

    5,500 tonnes [of production] at $US181 [/kg]

    So a billion dollars would buy the whole crop? Cheaper than one Stealth bomber. Why doesn't the US just buy the lot and process it into morphine for pain relief in the developing world?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Why doesn’t the US just buy the lot and process it into morphine for pain relief in the developing world?

    I suspect it has something to do with the profits from a stealth bomber being linked to the ability to hire security for the altogether too common gated communities in the developed world. After all how else can they stop poverty stricken addicts from be-spoiling their lifestyles and stealing their belongings?

    Two less sarcastic points do stick out though -

    A lot of the dialogue in this piece returns to our relationship with primary producers and how those in poorer countries cannot make a living (as with some richer ones). The commodification of primary produce and free market economics just don't work in this context. I don't think the ongoing food security problems elsewhere are unrelated to the way we buy food and what we expect to pay for it.

    I tried to imagine what would happen if we did eliminate opium poppies, coca, marijuana etc. The nightmare scenario would see massive growth in synthetics, which should scare everyone.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    So a billion dollars would buy the whole crop? Cheaper than one Stealth bomber. Why doesn't the US just buy the lot and process it into morphine for pain relief in the developing world?

    There was talk of that in 2001 but it never seemed to happen .

    Buying up the opium crop sounds like a no brainier but the argument against that says

    If the US or some medical council tries to buy up Helmand’s poppy production, opium will become scarce in the black market and prices will skyrocket. This will induce other provinces to take up poppy cultivation. Indeed, cultivation will also spread rapidly to neighbouring countries (Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) and the resultant opium will be smuggled into Afghanistan. The Taliban will, of course, profit handsomely from this illicit trade.

    Others are saying the CIA are heavily complicate in the trade.

    It's complex it seems.

    Thailand reduced its poppy production via a much wider community development programme that addressed the root cause, poverty.

    I agree pain relief is a real human need and opiates are the best but how does the dynamic of legal verses illegal opium trade actually work.

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    The nightmare scenario would see massive growth in synthetics, which should scare everyone.

    +1
    Which is why the "war on drugs" thinking is so dumb.

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    The Helena project appears to work by cutting out the 'middle man', i.e. the commodities markets where people like our glorious Prime Minister will trade both sides to death. In any of these cases of alternative crops, they are going to come up against subsidies and protectionism in the countries they need to export to. Thus, one hand giveth and the other taketh away. However, Helena Project shows that it can work at some scale.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    the ‘numbers’ add up…

    Why doesn’t the US just buy the lot …

    I think they probably do
    one way or another
    just off-the-books

    good ‘ol boys’ hooks
    in to click the ticket
    as it passes through
    to explode in silence -
    dead fingers don’t talk…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn, in reply to Luke Williamson,

    Which does beg the question about the value of these middle men and the "value added" services they provide.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Which is why the “war on drugs” thinking is so dumb.

    But the 'war on thinking'
    is going pretty well,
    don'tcha think?
    ...and we're only just starting to get a glimpse at how much may have been diverted and spent, on that particular area of governmental paranoia!

    To what end?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Yes Ian the war on thinking is winning . I despair at times.
    To what end is bloody good question, I fear I may descend down the rabbit hole with that one.
    It doesn't help that I have been reading The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli . Man his ideas were pretty basic compared to the geopolitics of today.

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • poffa, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Gregor Ronald,

    If you make selling the village's opium crop attractive enough (i.e. a Hilux ute and satellite TV for the headman, and cellphone access for everyone in a village) then anyone who breaks ranks and risks cancelling the deal will be a pariah. Once you have farmers that you can talk to, with a regular income, you can start on substitution programmes.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Gregor Ronald,

    Once you have farmers that you can talk to, with a regular income, you can start on substitution programmes.

    Yes. Sanho's point about economic security is quite crucial.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Coffee beans only make sense if you have very cheap labour. That's why it's not grown in Australia commercially, for example. I would think the risk-adjusted cash yield per acre needs to be comparable (ie I'd accept a lower cash payout for a lower risk of legal consequences etc).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    It's scary to think just how many square meters of land must be dedicated to my coffee habit, somewhere out there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to BenWilson,

    It’s scary to think just how many square meters of land must be dedicated to my coffee habit, somewhere out there.

    Ha! And how few is needed for my pain relief in hospital this week with so many names I don't know which ones I had :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Graylee, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    You're right, coffee production is easier when labour is cheap - however coffee is indeed grown in Australia commercially. Around 1980, commercial interest in coffee growing in Australia regenerated due to high world prices and, more importantly, the development of a mechanical harvester in Brazil. That is the way around the expensive labour for flat areas.

    Here is a great website about growing coffee in Australia:
    http://informedfarmers.com/tag/growing-coffee-in-australia/

    Coffee regions, Sydney, &… • Since Mar 2014 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Graylee, in reply to BenWilson,

    If you are rocking two double shot espressos each day, with 20g pucks, and the coffee is of a high milling factor, 0/20 defect prep, roasted medium, and from an older Arabica variety in great growing conditions... then about 16 trees is you for the year. The math will change a whole heap depending on what you drinking habits are and where the coffee comes from through the chain, but there is one data point for you.

    ... anyway, that is 81 square meters dedicated to you annually. (4x4 grid under shade with 3m between each tree)

    ;)

    Coffee regions, Sydney, &… • Since Mar 2014 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Canniwire,

    With the trend to legalize cannabis in the US there may be an large and legal emerging market for hemp there.

    seattle • Since Mar 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matt Graylee,

    ;)

    That was actually quite awesome.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    Great info on coffee Matt thanks.
    How about green tea , I have moved over from coffee, 4 cups a day , double bags in each, steeped for 5 mins. Feeling the need for a triple bag cup .

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • alobar, in reply to Richard Aston,

    I wouldn't want to give up my green tea , but maybe you should Stretch and Eat an Apple ....
    http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/5-caffeine-substitution-ideas.html

    auckland • Since Apr 2010 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Wicked, thanks Matt.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Matt Graylee,

    the development of a mechanical harvester in Brazil. That is the way around the expensive labour for flat areas.

    Huh, interesting. I thought mechanical harvesting only produced low-grade results because of uneven ripening of the cherries?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Graylee, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Sorry Richard, about green tea I do not know much. Other than it is delicious. I did happen to live in northern Japan when I was 17-18 years old, and we used extremely finely ground green tea in the same way that Turkish coffee is prepared. A bit sludgy but good :)

    Coffee regions, Sydney, &… • Since Mar 2014 • 6 posts Report Reply

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