European Parliament wants to turn Afghan opium into painkillers
Source: EU Observer
October 26, 2007
By Jochen Luypaert
The European Parliament has proposed turning Afghanistan’s massive poppy
crop into legal opium-based pain-killers in order to enhance stability
and reduce poverty in the conflict-torn country.
On Thursday (25 October), MEPs adopted a [report which urged member
states->http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/030-10241-254-09-37-903-20070910IPR10225-11-09-2007-2007-false/default_en.htm] to devise and submit a plan to the Afghan government aimed at
controlling drug production in Afghanistan.
This plan should include a pilot project aimed at turning the illicit
production of the narcotic into legal analgesics.
The report also makes an appeal to do more to develop the poorest areas
of the country, especially in those not yet producing opium on a large
scale, by “carefully and selectively engaging in manual eradication”.
In addition, the plan should urge the Central-Asian country to tackle
corruption at the “highest levels” of its government, in particular the
Ministry of the Interior.
Explaining its motives, the parliament said that “insurgents, warlords,
the Taliban and terrorist groups are obtaining their major source of
funding through trade in illicit narcotics”, thereby endangering the
fragile political stability and economic development of the country.
The report, drawn up by Italian liberal MEP Marco Cappato, was adopted
by an overwhelming majority of 368 for and 49 against, and has been
welcomed by the Senlis Council.
The Paris-based think-tank, which has been trying since 2005 to gain a
foothold for the idea, believes that the US-led poppy crop eradication
has been largely ineffective.
Furthermore, it is convinced that destroying poppy fields and yields
could be counter-productive and give the Taliban a decisive advantage in
the struggle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.
“By linking the country’s two most valuable resources – poppy
cultivation and strong local village control systems, the controlled
cultivation of poppy for the local production of morphine can be
secured,” the think tank’s Director of Policy Research, Jorrit Kamminga
Afghanistan supplies more than 90% of the world’s opium, generating
about €2.1 billion in revenues a year. The World Bank has estimated that
about 40% of Afghanistan’s economic activity is opium-related.