Hello! My name is Hana Kiros, and it is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to the sixty-sixth session of Harvard National Model United Nations. I am a rising sophomore at Harvard College, and I will serve as director of the African Union at HNMUN 2020 (wow, 2020 already? Geez!). I look forward to spending a wonderful weekend in Boston with you all, full of exciting debate, meaningful collaboration, and robust discussions on the problems and promise present in the 55 countries comprising the African Union.
As an African myself by way of Ethiopia, my interest in African affairs has been lifelong, and comes rather naturally. However, if you emerge from this weekend convinced of nothing else, I hope that I may convince you of the centrality of African issues to broader discussions on how to cultivate sustainability and development worldwide.
This committee’s topic, the cultivation and acceptance of GMO food aid in Africa, touches upon two topics that have been the cornerstones of my academic experience at Harvard: current affairs and the life sciences. At the College, I study Neuroscience, with my research interests primarily focused upon facilitating the development of novel treatments for incurable, genetics-based neurological disorders utilizing gene editing. In pursuit of this interest, I serve as a research assistant in a Harvard lab working to better characterize and minimize the unintended effects gene editing may induce in human cells – a line of work that has made me intimately familiar with the risks and great potential associated with introducing genetic modification to any organism.
Outside of this work, I am also involved with international affairs programming, cultural groups, and student journalism on campus. I’m currently a member of Harvard’s competitive traveling MUN team, and previously served as an Assistant Director for the NGO Programme and for the crisis committee “La Transición: Spain After Franco” at HMUN (our sister conference for high schoolers) and HNMUN 2019, respectively. Further, I serve as an editor on the Harvard Crimson’s Editorial Board, and am currently on the board of the Association of Black Harvard Women as well as Harvard’s Black Health Matter Conference. In my spare time, I really like napping, doing nothing, being a gossip, and reading the New York Times obsessively. Rap music and more modern additions to the musical theater catalogue also hold a special place in my heart, as do all genres of music save for dubstep.
When discussing the history and future of genetically modified crops in Africa, questions concerning national sovereignty, morality, public health, and the tactics of crisis response arise. On a semi-related note, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have on committee, or life, prior to conference! I urge you all to engage robustly and empathetically with these issues from the perspective of your member nation, and truly look forward to seeing you at HNMUN!
Hoping you’re well!
Director, African Union
Topic Area: GMO Food Aid and Cultivation in Africa
As of 2017, only four African nations—Burkina Faso, Egypt, Sudan and South Africa—legally permit the cultivation of GMO crops within their borders. In 2002, the governments of Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe famously refused GMO maize food aid from the United States at the height of a drought, a decision that would leave millions of Africans faced with starvation in lieu of alternatively sourced external food aid. However, in the era since this famous rejection of GMO crops on the continent, African and global attitudes towards GMO crops have undergone an uneven shift. Whereas many African nations still remain apprehensive to the introduction of GMO crops to their diet, South Africa has emerged as one of the world’s top 10 GMO producing countries, having planted more than one million hectares of GM crops as of August 2018. Given that Africa's population is set to double by 2050, the urgent need to increase the efficiency of African (and global) food production makes the discussion of whether Africa should begin cultivating and accepting more GMO crops particularly pertinent. In light of these circumstances, how will the African Union—composed of member nations both historically wronged by foreign powers, and particularly vulnerable to the onset of famine—define its stance on GMO cultivation, and the acceptance of GMO food aid?