DES MOINES, Iowa - "Confronting hunger can bring together people, even across the broadest divides of cultures, religion and diversity."
That's the philosophy of Kenneth Quinn, a former U.S. ambassador and the current president of the World Food Prize, headquartered in Des Moines.
Quinn spoke in a news conference Wednesday on his unprecedented trip to Iran, where he was invited as a keynote speaker to a government-organized conference on addressing the region's hunger issues. Quinn said he focused his speech there on how Iowans and Iranians could work together, utilizing biotechnology, to solve the region's problems. As a result, a spontaneous standing ovation was given at the end of his speech; even the Iranian Minister of Agriculture, a representative of the Supreme Leader of Iran, was standing.
"Here we are, Iowa, once again. With the World Food Prize, through what we do best - agriculture and feeding people - perhaps opening the way for a small, but maybe not insignificant step, in helping ensure that there is peace, and moving away from conflict," he said Wednesday.
Quinn touched on Iowa's history of going to the enemy's doorstep to meet the needs of the hungry. One particular example he cited was when Iowans sent hogs to Japan after World War II to help them rebuild.
While U.S.-Iranian relations aren't at their best, Quinn said he believes Iowans and the World Food Prize can use the power of ending world hunger as an olive branch for peace.