Opium poppy harvest

Opium poppy harvest

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Credit: PHILIPPE PSAILA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Opium poppy harvest. Worker holding harvested opium poppies (Papaver somniferum). On the right are poppies shortly after being harvested. On the left are poppies after they have been compressed and forced through holes in an extruder to form pellets. This process prevents the poppies from fermenting and makes them easier to transport. The opium poppy is the source of opium, a narcotic resin that contains the alkaloids morphine and codeine. These are used by the pharmaceutical industry as painkillers (analgesics). Opium can be refined to yield pure heroin, an illegal drug that induces feelings of warmth and euphoria. Frequent use leads to an increase in tolerance and addiction. Photographed in France.

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