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Published November 13 2010

Bishop: ELCA not against genetically modified seeds

A draft statement on genetics being reviewed by the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination does not condemn farming with genetically modified seed, Bishop Bill Rindy said Friday.

“The draft does not condemn GMOs (genetically modified organisms). It just says that, as we’re playing with the very building blocks of life, let’s be careful and thoughtful about that be­cause we do not want to do damage in the process,” said Rindy, bishop of the Eastern North Dakota Syn­od of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

There has been concern on the part of some that the ELCA statement condemns biotech farming. Anselm Trinity Lutheran Church in rural Sheldon, N.D., recently left the ELCA, and in an interview earlier this week, congregation President Jill Bunn referenced such concerns within that congregation.

The statement, which is still in the draft stage, addresses issues beyond agriculture, including discussions of human, animal and plant genetics.

“Nowhere does it dictate what people should or shouldn’t plant,” Rindy said.

Rindy said there’s “room at the table for both” organic farmers and those who use GMOs. The statement “doesn’t say one is right and one is wrong. It’s just saying let’s be careful how we deal with this because we have great power now,” Rindy said.

The social statement would have to be passed at an ELCA Churchwide Assembly to be adopted. The next assembly is in August 2011.

Exactly what the final draft of the statement will look like isn’t yet known because the document is still subject to revision. Rindy said whether the final version is adopted is up to those voting.

“My counsel is and will always be, please read the document, and then let’s talk about it,” he said. “Let’s not blast the document which hasn’t been read.”

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