Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-10-24-Speech-3-474"

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"Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, it is not a matter simply of observing that 92% of opium in the world is produced in Afghanistan but of noting the upward trend: in 2001, according to data from the UN drugs agency, 8 000 hectares were given over to opium growing while in 2006 it was 165 000; 185 tons were harvested in 2001, 6 100 in 2006. This obviously means that the current strategy of destroying crops by fumigation solves nothing. Rather, it has social consequences that will subsequently cause opium production to spiral. Crops other than opium poppies are destroyed, so farmers become ever poorer and end up in the hands of drug traffickers, namely the Taliban and the warlords sitting comfortably in government. The goal is therefore to provide farmers with support which at least initially must be at the same financial level as now, freeing them from dependence on drug traffickers. This plan will not solve the problem, of course, but no one is claiming that it will. We are talking about an experiment in a limited area, and it could not be otherwise in a war-torn country where land is controlled by rival gangs. It nevertheless constitutes a step forward, in that at least part of that opium will not end up as heroin, but as morphine. That, I believe, is beneficial for the West and the entire world. Besides, I think we must clarify the fact that there is already provision for morphine production. I am not aware, Commissioner, that all these problems exist in India and Turkey; if so, regulation is needed. The resolution before us, however, envisages a regulatory role for international bodies: not over Afghanistan as a whole, which is unmanageable at present, but over an extremely limited area. Furthermore, international medical associations are making plain that there is still a need for morphine today, not only in the South of the world, but paradoxically in the North too. It must of course be sold at official prices, but it is a painkiller and in my opinion everyone is entitled to it, including African people and poor people. If we are talking about expense, it undoubtedly costs less to take action of this kind and to place price controls on morphine, rather than deciding to destroy crops using the existing methods which get us nowhere. One last comment: I welcome the fact that this has been a pragmatic debate, not an argument between those wishing to liberalise or legalise drugs and prohibitionism. We are trying to take practical, pragmatic action to assist part of the Afghan population."@en1

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