Saturday, April 26, 2014

Free the seed! Open source model spreads to farming

Above: statue of "The Sower" flinging
seed from the dome-tipped 400-foot shaft
of the Nebraska State Capitol, which
really must be seen to be believed.
Unlike scientists at the University of Nebraska, who usually play ball with agribusiness, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are doing something about the fact that three big companies  (Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont) own and control about half of all commercial seed sales, maintaining control of a large portion of the seeds responsible for the global food supply.
     They've become active in the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI), and on April 17th in Madison, they passed out  seed packets of 36 varieties of 14 different crops that have been developed as open source. From
     In an effort to "free the seeds" from patenting, licensing, and other intellectual property protections, the  aims to restore the formerly common practice of open sharing among growers, by keeping certain vegetable seeds in the public domain and protecting them (and any future varieties derived from them) from being patented in the future.
"These vegetables are part of our common cultural heritage, and our goal is to make sure these seeds remain in the public domain for people to use in the future." - Irwin Goldman, UW-Madison horticulture professor and plant breeder
Some of these open source seeds will be available through two small seed companies, High Mowing Organic Seeds and Wild Garden Seed, beginning this year, and an assortment of 15 open source seed packets of Certified Organic vegetable varieties is available from OSSI for pre-order (delivery in mid-May 2014).

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