The Reason for Ricin
Castor bean seeds 
Image (15)


Castor beans are slightly larger than pinto beans and come in an array of patterns and colors.  Because of this, in some parts of the world they are used for necklaces and other decorative jewelry. (11)

The primary purpose of commercially growing castor beans is to produce castor oil.  One million tons of castor beans are processed annually for the production of castor oil which is used in medicines, special lubricants, laundry detergents and paints. (11)
 
The castor bean has been a part of folk medicine for centuries dating back to the Classical Greek period.  In the tropics it remains custom to eat the seeds in order to induce purgative effects.  (8)

Ricin is present in 5% of the waste from the  processing of the castor beans and is easily extracted out from the remaining waste products. (11)

Ricin is a considered a bioweapon and is a potential bioterrorist threat for the following reasons (11):


   Biohazard Symbol Image (16)
  1. Large quantities of ricin can be easily and inexpensively produced
  2. Ricin is highly toxic and can be fatal when ingested or inhaled
  3. Ricin is widely available and is fairly stable
  4. It exists in a liquid, crystalline, or powder form
  5. No antidote or vaccine currently exists for it

The high toxicity of ricin and its rapid lethal affects also make it an attractive poison for assassinations:
Georgi Markov is perhaps the most famous ricin assassination case.  In 1978 the Bulgarian writer was assassinated by being stabbed in the thigh with an umbrella that was rigged to inject a small but lethal dose of ricin. (10)  He died 3 days later in London.  It was the third attempt on his life by the KGB in response to his outspoken views against the ruling communist party. (10)






                                                                                            Georgi Markov Image (11)

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