Dear Nikki Haley,
The America First narrative that is emphasized under the current administration is disastrous for the state of the world. As a leading world power, America has a responsibility to take action to aid countries that may need assistance. The problem of arsenic poisoning may not be a pressing issue in the United States at this immediate moment, but it is prevalent in other poorer nations who cannot afford the same methods to keep their countries safe. America’s power and influence leads to an obligation to take action in order to combat issues affecting undeveloped nations, such as arsenic poisoning.
Arsenic is found in rice. Of course, it also is found in places that one might think of more typically, such as rat poisons and wood finishing substances, but where is is truly a problem is in developing countries where it gets into the rice supply. The arsenic found in day-to-day products makes its way into rivers, groundwater, and the general water supply of countries. It can also contaminate the soil in which crops are grown. In America, there is sufficient funds to provide for filtering methods, which remove chemicals such as arsenic through the process of osmosis. However, not all countries and cities can afford such methods, and so levels of arsenic in water supplies in these places can be much higher than the United States. Because of the methods used to grow rice successfully, such as flooding, rice crops are exposed to high amounts of water, which may contain arsenic. Eating only small amounts of rice contaminated with arsenic is not an issue; it is the prolonged exposure through daily consumption that causes real problems. In many countries, especially in Asia, rice is a staple part of millions of people’s diets. The combination of a lack of proper filtration methods and increased consumption compared to America makes arsenic problem a real issue in many poorer countries in Asia; a problem that very few know or care about. Arsenic poisoning takes effect slowly over a long period of exposure but can lead to lung cancer or skin cancer, with skin peeling in patches and skin discoloration. The manner in which hundreds of thousands of human lives are affected is a travesty.
Taking action to combat this problem seems daunting at first, but collaborative effort from the UN can make it possible. India, an original member of the United Nations is one of the nations facing the issue of arsenic poisoning, along with countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam. To not have access to safe food is a violation of basic human rights, and the United States has an obligation to be a champion of human rights for people all over the world. The cost of providing filters and education of smart sustainable ways of growing rice is not substantial when one takes into account the amount of money the UN and America itself spends on other issues. Even if no decision can be reached by the UN, I urge you to bring awareness to a serious issue that not many know about by speaking on this issue at the UN.
A concerned group of high schoolers