We are so excited to share this information! Finally someone is standing up to the giants! In the opinion of the Global Freedom Movement, seed is not something that should EVER be patented. It is not for anyone to own, nor to make money from. Seed belongs to us all. And that is exactly what the Open Source Seed Initiative believes too.
This article was originally posted on 18th April 2014, here at The Cornucopia Institute.
Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’
by Dan Charles
A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They’re releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new “open source pledge” that’s intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.
It’s inspired by the example of open source software, which is freely available for anyone to use but cannot legally be converted into anyone’s proprietary product.
Irwin Goldman, a vegetable breeder at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, helped organize the campaign. It’s an attempt to restore the practice of open sharing that was the rule among plant breeders when he entered the profession more than 20 years ago.
These days, seeds are intellectual property. Some are patented as inventions. You need permission from the patent holder to use them, and you’re not supposed to harvest seeds for replanting the next year.
Even university breeders operate under these rules. When Goldwin creates a new variety of onions, carrots or table beets, a technology-transfer arm of the university licenses it to seed companies.
Sociologist Jack Kloppenburg, also at the University of Wisconsin, has been campaigning against seed patents for 30 years. His reasons go beyond Goldman’s.
He says turning seeds into private property has contributed to the rise of big seed companies that in turn promote ever-bigger, more specialized farms. “The problem is concentration, and the narrow set of uses to which the technology and the breeding are being put,” he says.
Kloppenburg says one important goal for this initiative is simply to get people thinking and talking about how seeds are controlled. “It’s to open people’s minds,” he says. “It’s kind of a biological meme, you might say: Free seed! Seed that can be used by anyone!”
The companies that dominate the seed business probably will keep selling their own proprietary varieties or hybrids. There’s more money to be made with those seeds.
John Shoenecker, director of intellectual property for the seed company HM Clause and the incoming president of the American Seed Trade Association, says his company may avoid using open source seed to breed new commercial varieties “because then we’d … have limited potential to recoup the investment.” That’s because the offspring of open source seeds would have to be shared as well, and any other seed company could immediately sell the same variety.
Meanwhile, two small seed companies that specialize in selling to organic farmers — High Mowing Organic Seeds in Hardwick, Vt., and Wild Garden Seed in Philomath, Ore., are adding some open source seeds to their catalogs this year.
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