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Problems with Castor Supply

 
 
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P
roblems related to the supply of castor oil have hindered its adoption for even more applications and limited its overall popularity.

The Castor plant contains highly toxic and allergenic compounds and is poorly suited for domestic production. In fact Ricin, a byproduct found in castor seed meal, is only slightly less toxic than plutonium - a single molecule can disrupt a human cell. In addition, the allergenic compounds found on the plant surface can cause permanent nerve damage. This makes the harvest of these plants a major human health risk.

India, Brazil and China are the major crop producers and the workers often suffer many harmful side effects from working with these plants. India is a leading producer and political problems in that country further threaten an already unstable castor supply.

As a result of these issues the supply of castor is unsteady and price fluctuations are extreme. Yet even with these problems the chemical industry uses an average of 600-800 million lbs. of oil each year. This is a true testament to the value of castor oil.

 

 

Linnaeus Plant Sciences, Inc. - image of Ricinus communis
Ricinus communis

 
 

 

 

 
   
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