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Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation

A Ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

United States Province

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Faith Groups Advocate Pro-Poor Agricultural Policies at USTR

November 30th, 2009

bag of riceFourteen representatives of the InterFaith Working Group on Trade and Investment, including Séamus Finn, OMI – Director of the Oblate JPIC Office, called on the US Trade Representative to support measures to aid small farmers in developing countries. In a symbolic gesture, the faith groups delivered more than 100 bags of rice to emphasize the need for trade rules that would enable poor countries to protect their populations from sharp spikes in food prices. The IWG members met with USTR trade negotiators the day before Thanksgiving, within 72 hours of their leaving for a WTO Ministerial meeting in Geneva.

During the meeting with the USTR negotiators, the faith delegation urged that the US support safeguard mechanisms for special products, including food staples such as rice, maize and wheat, while in Geneva.

“A safeguard mechanism is needed so that vulnerable populations do not find themselves at the mercy of the volatile market forces that caused the 2008 food crisis,” said Ruth Messinger of the American Jewish World Service. “This is a moral issue, not a political one: Trade rules should not hinder the ability of developing nations to provide food for their people.”

The faith leaders shared the perspective of their groups which have deep connections to grassroots partners in developing countries negatively affected by current trade policies.

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