The Tasmanian GMO Super Poppies that Bedeviled America

In the 1990s, Australian government researchers (bankrolled by a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Tasmanian Alkaloids) found a way to genetically modify poppies—allowing the plant to preserve larger amounts of thebaine, a key ingredient needed to produce drugs like oxycodone.
“For pharmaceutical companies, this was a bit like developing a grape that synthesized its own wine,” Julian Morgan writes.
That development kick-started a push for Tasmanian farms to up production. Soon, opioid manufacturers were offering Tasmanian poppy farmers perks like luxury cars. to up their yields. As a result, the tiny island has supplied much of world’s legal opioids for the last 25 yearsfueling a far-away crisis in America, thanks to some regulatory grease from American lobbyists.


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