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Volume 2 Issue 6, June 2019

Greening production of opiate-addiction treatments

Along with codeine and morphine, the opium poppy, pictured, produces thebaine, which can be used to create opiate-addiction treatments. However, it must first be processed using toxic reactants that produce harmful waste. Kutchan et al. probed an opium-processing waste stream and identified a versatile enzyme that can be used instead.

See Kutchan et al.

Image: Dr Howard Berg, Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre. Cover Design: David Shand.


  • Scholars contributing to the Intergovernmental Science–Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) have a lot of in-depth insights to share. Here’s what we recommend to those who are willing to do it.



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Comment & Opinion

  • Zeolites and other technologies should be evaluated and pursued for reducing methane concentrations in the atmosphere from 1,860 ppb to preindustrial levels of ~750 ppb. Such a goal of atmospheric restoration provides a positive framework for change at a time when climate action is desperately needed.

    • R. B. Jackson
    • E. I. Solomon
    • C. B. Field
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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • Ecosystem-service assessments often fail to account for groundwater’s role in the ecosystem. Whether groundwater is important for these services depends strongly on the assessment scale and the local context.

    • P. James Dennedy-Frank
    News & Views
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  • Thebaine, a naturally occurring opiate, is used to produce drugs that treat opiate addiction, but it must be processed using toxic reactants that produce harmful waste. In this study, the authors probed an opium-processing waste stream and identified a versatile enzyme that can be used instead.

    • M. M. Augustin
    • J. M. Augustin
    • T. M. Kutchan
  • Groundwater influences biophysical processes behind key ecosystem services. This study finds that many ecosystem service indicators respond nonlinearly when the water table is within a critical depth, with the potential for large effects in areas with shallow groundwater.

    • Jiangxiao Qiu
    • Samuel C. Zipper
    • Steven P. Loheide
  • Although climate warming after the 1950s is clear in many studies, records suggest an earlier onset to industrial impacts. This study combines observational data with simulations and finds a weakening of temperature seasonality, attributable to human influence, over the Northern Hemisphere since the late nineteenth century.

    • Jianping Duan
    • Zhuguo Ma
    • Jürg Luterbacher
  • The challenges of meeting food, water and energy needs are interconnected, requiring integrated assessments of land use, socioeconomic policies and climate change. This study assesses the required increases in water, trade and agricultural land needed to double food production by 2050.

    • A. V. Pastor
    • A. Palazzo
    • F. Ludwig
  • Water consumption does not put a constant stress on available supplies, but is instead a function of flexibility in demands for food, water and energy. This analysis looks at 36 years of water consumption around the globe to identify basins under the most stress, and how they can lower their intensive uses.

    • Yue Qin
    • Nathaniel D. Mueller
    • Steven J. Davis
  • While marine protected areas are key for supporting biodiversity and coastal communities, the outcomes can be, and can be perceived, as a mixed bag. Synthesizing research from 118 articles, this Analysis draws broad insights about both the effects of marine protected areas as well as which aspects remain understudied.

    • Natalie C. Ban
    • Georgina Grace Gurney
    • Sara Jo Breslow
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