The Poppy or opiate alkaloid industry is based on a dry poppy plant process invented by Hungarian chemist, Janos Kabay, in 1931. Following CSIRO development work, pilot production began on the north-west coast in 1964. The first commercial season began in 1970, involving 560 hectares under cultivation to the UK Glaxo Group, who established a poppy-processing facility at Latrobe. In 1972, a government decision restricted the growing of Papaver somniferum to Tasmania.
The Poppy Advisory & Control Board was established to license and control growing and production in accordance with United Nations conventions. This vertically integrated industry, in the 2002–03 season, involved the companies of GlaxoSmithKline and Tasmanian Alkaloids Pty Ltd and 1150 farmers growing 17,500 hectares of poppies, from which 31,000 tonnes of poppy material were produced.
Further reading: Tasmanian Poppy Advisory and Control Board report, Edition 3, Department of Justice and Industrial Relations, 2002; Poppy Growers Bulletin, 1975–; www.gskpoppy.com; www.tasalk.com.au.