UNEP: United Nations Environment Programme

Topic A: Mitigating the Global Impact of Crop Toxicity

Climate change in recent years has led to the accumulation of toxic substances in crops, and as a result, crop toxicity has a major impact on human health. Environmental changes leading to droughts lead to nitrate accumulation in crucial staple crops such as wheat, barley, and maize, while heavy extended rain periods can cause hydrogen cyanide to catalyze the growth of fungal toxins called aflatoxins, causing cancer and further stunting the growth of crops. Pesticides and genetically modified crops are among other agricultural practices that negatively impact health as well. It is the role of the United Nations Environmental Programme to properly evaluate methods to decrease crop toxicity. Delegates will be exploring how supply and demand have catalyzed harmful agricultural practices and will determine ways to ensure that food safety complies with local and international environmental laws. This topic will entail discussions of food security, health, and economic issues, and it is particularly timely, as the ramifications of climate change are continually felt on a global scale.

Topic B: The Impact of Environmental Change on Health

Analyzing health outbreaks and concerns of past and present, it is clear that the wellness of the international community is significantly compromised by environmental degradations. Examples of global health deterioration include asthma, lung cancer, lead and mercury poisoning, and even the ebola and zika viruses. UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, says “The spread of Zika, just as with Ebola, has sent a strong signal to the international community that there is a need for increased attention to the linkages between environment and health.” In addition, global warming has had a unique effect on the spread of disease and how far diseases can spread in general. As temperatures increase, diseases are entering regions that have not yet had the ability to build up resistances to them. The expansion of tropical diseases and the connection to climate change are no coincidence. Through the course of research and debate, delegates will find this topic quite exciting as we dive into current viral and bacterial trends, regional changes as the result of rising temperatures, and green economy ideas, all of which will lead this committee to finding solutions to reduce the effects of environmental harm related to health.

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