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Wants to „Free the Seeds“

How the Open Source Seeds Initiative
Wants to „Free the Seeds“

OSSI Logo – Photo: OSSI
OSSI Logo – Photo: OSSI

The Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) is dedicated to maintaining fair and open access to plant genetic resources worldwide.

Originally developed for computer software, the open-source model is based on principles of open exchange, collaboration, transparency and community-oriented development. Open source software is legal to use, distribute and develop by anyone. The source code is freely accessible, which means that changes to it are always visible. This ensures a collaborative progress, benefiting programmers and non-programmers alike. Prominent examples of successful open source projects are Mozilla Firefox and Linux, on which Google’s Android operating system is based on.

Squash field – Photo: Carol Deppe / OSSI
Squash field – Photo: Carol Deppe / OSSI

The Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) applies this model to genetic resources of plants. Their goals are to encourage sharing rather than restricting access to plant germplasm and to support the work of plant breeders of all kinds, as well as promoting a diversified and decentralised seed industry.

How does the Seed Initiative work?

OSSI works with plant breeders who commit themselves to making one or more of their varieties available exclusively under the OSSI Pledge: They have the freedom to use these OSSI-Pledged seeds in any way they choose. In return, they pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include this Pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.

Seeds – Photo: Claire Luby / OSSI
Seeds – Photo: Claire Luby / OSSI

This “copyleft” commitment ensures that the Pledge is transmitted with any further distribution of the seed or the seed of any new varieties bred from it. On the basis of the OSSI Pledge, OSSI-Pledged seed is considered to be “freed seed.“ Its use for any purpose cannot be restricted. The initiative uses the word “freed,” not “free,” because they refer to freedom and not to price.
Can companies benefit from „freed seeds“?

Field – Photo: Jack Kloppenburg / OSSI
Field – Photo: Jack Kloppenburg / OSSI

According to the OSSI, the „freed seeds“ benefit not only gardeners and consumers by increasing the choices in varieties of plants and vegetables, but also the seed companies. By selling and emphasising OSSI-Pledged seed, the seed company makes a statement that they, like their customers, care about the sustainability of the food system and the need to keep the genes that support the food system accessible to everyone. Moreover, just as with fair trade and organics, there is a significant potential market among ethical consumers and gardeners.

Further information: http://osseeds.org

1 Comment

  1. Sai Bharath | | Reply

    Nice informative post. I will surely try OSSI. Thanks for sharing such a helpful information!

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