UNEP: United Nations Environment Programme

Topic A: Genetically Modified Organisms and Their Effects on Agriculture

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are plants, animals, or other organisms that have a modified genetic makeup and are tailored to grow in specific ways in different regions. Some countries view GMOs as a viable solution to world hunger, as GMOs reduce the amount of land needed to grow crops, reduce the need for pesticides, and increase crop yield and quality. Opposingly, other countries are wary about GMOs as an agricultural alternative, for reasons such as the destruction of native species of plant life through cross-pollination from invasive species. When new crops are introduced, many animals undergo changes to their health and behavior in order to adapt, and some may become endangered if their metabolisms cannot withstand these new crops. Because of these dual effects, the topic of GMOs is particularly delicate as it could be considered both a help and a hindrance towards sustainability. The UNEP has a unique role as the recognized governing body on the environment, and the committee must seek to find the balance on GMO use or to propose regional solutions that respect country sovereignty.

Topic B: Complications with Endangered Pollinators

Pollinators are the animals and insects that transfer pollen, allowing plants to grow, spread, and produce fruits and vegetable that are vital to the world food supply. The Earth’s ability to regenerate, provide for its many inhabitants, and ultimately survive relies on the work of pollinators such as butterflies, bats, bees, birds, and beetles. These small creatures perform environmentally complex services for the planet, such as facilitating the reproduction of plants, transporting seeds, providing half of the world’s oils and other raw materials, preventing soil erosion, and even mitigating global warming by increasing carbon sequestration. Countries have been reaping the benefits of pollination in farming for as long as humans have practiced agriculture, but recent environmental trends have endangered a number of these pollinators. Drought, deforestation, increased temperatures, and atmospheric pollution all endanger these vital species and change the dynamics of ecosystems globally. Delegates of the UNEP must collaborate to decide how the international community plans to protect these critical species, understanding their important role in sustainable growth and preservation.