As part of the Common Agricultural Policy, farmers in European Community countries are required to take a proportion of their land out of production in return for subsidies on their main crops. This land is known as set-aside and it was originally intended that it should be left fallow: A dispensation was introduced however, whereby crops could be grown on this land, provided that they were for industrial (as opposed to food) use. Pharmaceutical products were included in one of the permitted categories, which opened up the prospect of cheap raw materials for plant-based drugs. This paper will examine the experience of producing one such commodity, evening primrose seed, and the way in which bureaucracy and human nature have limited the usefulness of set-aside production for that crop. This may help to illustrate the perils of new-crop introduction in a subsidised agricultural system.
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