Everybody is familiar with the concept of open source software – basically software which anybody can use, develop, and enhance without fear of violating copyright or patent. But open source seeds? That is the idea behind the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI): to provide seeds that are free from restriction, licensing, and patents, in a world where seeds are increasingly used as a corporate commodity.
Seed breeders, as they are known, as well as other vegetable and grain growers, can take the Open Source Seed Initiative Pledge, which states that they pledge that they will not restrict anybody’s use of “the seeds and their derivatives by patents, licenses, or any other means.”
Fundamental to Open Source Software from which, again, the Open Source Seed Initiative cribbed its model, is the proviso that any open source software license “shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.”
According to reports, the OSSI struggled with coming up with a definition of open source that cleared a variety of hurdles. But they eventually came up with the OSSI pledge, which is printed on packages of open source seeds:
The Open Source Seed Inititiatve Pledge
This Open Source Seed pledge is intended to ensure your freedom to use the seed contained herein in any way you choose, and to make sure those freedoms are enjoyed by all subsequent users. By opening this packet, you pledge that you will not restrict others’ use of these seeds and their derivatives by patents, licenses, or any other means. You pledge that if you transfer these seeds or their derivatives they will also be accompanied by this pledge.
Some seed vendors are already starting to carry open source seeds (“OSS”). One example, where you can order OSS seeds (yes, that is redundant) is Open Source Seeds at Berea Gardens.
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