Friday, July 4, 2008

"Psst ... hey, Buddy, wanna buy a Poppy?"

Headlines: from the The Columbus Dispatch, May 3, 2007

Afghanistan's opium production booms as allies stumble along -- Opium production soared last year [2006] to 6,400 tons. Afghanistan now accounts for 92 percent of the world's heroin.

A few other facts: Based on UNODC data, there has been more opium poppy cultivation in each of the past four growing seasons (2004-2007), than in any one year during Taliban rule. More land is now used for opium in Afghanistan, than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 93% of the opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan. That amounts to an annual export value of about $4 billion. A quarter of that amount is earned by opium farmers; the rest goes to district officials, insurgents, warlords and drug traffickers.

Danz View: Afghan farmers are paid considerably less than $100 a kilo for raw opium. Multiply those 6,400 tons in 2006 by $200 a kilo. Now if we were to have outbid the drug smugglers, taken custody of the stuff and destroyed it, it would have cost about $2 billion -- instead, it was sold on the open market, and the guys we are fighting: they earned $4 billion. Let the market decide, right - more GOP "economic planning?"

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