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opium seeds

Poppy seeds from seven different origins (Dutch, Australian, Hungarian, Spanish, Czech, and two Turkish) were analyzed for the amount of opiates present. Four grams of each kind of seeds, equivalent to the amount of seeds on two bagels, were ingested by volunteers. One volunteer also ingested four times the same amount of poppy seeds from the same origin (Spanish). During 24 hours urine samples were obtained and screened for the presence of morphine and codeine using the FPIA technique (cut-off = 200 ng/mL) and a GC/MS confirmation with a limit of detection (LOD) of 25 ng/mL for codeine and morphine. Poppy seeds from different origins contain a wide variation of morphine (2-251 micro g/g) and codeine (0.4-57.1 micro g/g) content. No other opiate could be detected. After ingestion a large interindividual variation of excretion of opiates exists. The testing results from the same kind of seeds ingested four times with a one week interval by the same volunteer also show a poor reproduceability. Several kinds of poppy seeds can give positive testing results (Australian, Hungarian, Spanish and one kind of Turkish seeds). Within 24 hours all testing results became negative.

The poppy is very sensitive to wind, particularly when it is maturing. The capsule is then comparatively heavy; it may be beaten down and the latex lost.

The opium poppy, Papaver somniferum L., belongs to the Papaveraceae family. The Papaveraceae are dicotyledonous, dialypetalous superovaried plants. Although the family itself is simple of classification, the same is not true of its internal classification: the number of genera and with it the number of species within each genus varies according to botanists. As this is a relatively secondary matter and of theoretical rather than practical importance, there is no need to go any further than the Bonnier classification. 3

Since the poppy, as has been indicated, adapts itself easily to different soil and climatic conditions, horticulturists have succeeded by dint of time and care in developing “geographical races” which are relatively constant and well-adapted to the soil and climate of the given country. Thus efforts were made, with success, to develop closed-capsule species, and these are at present the predominating type, for instance, in Asia Minor: their capsules are larger and rounder, and consequently harvesting is easier; and in addition the morphine yield is generally two or three per cent higher than that of plants with dehiscent capsules.

Parasites which destroy the leaf and stem, such as, Perenospora arborescens , which gives the poppy mildew, and Orobanche papaveris , which attacks the roots;

Generally speaking,agricultural machinery is practically unknown in the poppy-growing areas, and the seed is therefore generally sown broadcast, about 20 kilogrammes of seed per hectare being used instead of the three or four kilogrammes which would suffice with a mechanical sower.

2 For example, in 1947 over 31,000 tons of poppy seed were produced in nine countries (Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland). See document E/CONF.14/7.

Lastly, the poppy may vary as to height (30 to 150 centimetres or more), stem appearance (glabrous or hairy), and leaf, which may be of many different shapes.