What Is The Open Source Seed Initiative?

If you have never looked into the Open Source Seed Initiative before then you are certainly not alone. The OSSI was created in an attempt to try and balance the trend when it comes to patenting and restricting the use of seeds for farmers. Over the last few decades, there have been a huge amount of patents put on seeds and this has spread to all parts of the world. If this trend was to continue then this would mean that genetic resources become so encumbered from a legal perspective that gardeners and even farmers may not be able to buy seeds at all. Instead they would have to rent them from the companies who have them patented.

Seeds for corn, sugar beet and even soybean in the US even have a one-time use for the seed, and in other words, they can only be used for a single cropping season.

Farmers are not able to save their seeds, replant them or even breed them, so they have to buy them from the supplier every single time. Plant breeders are also not allowed to use the seeds, even if it means that they can improve them, leading to an increase in pests and even diseases. All of these legal restrictions can benefit some companies but it really does take its toll on farmers and even those who do their best to give the general public a good product.

Who Is The OSSI?

OSSI is an abbreviation of the Open Source Seed Initiative. The OSSI have three objectives and the first one is to try and exchange seeds so they can be free of any licensing issues, patents and any other restrictions. On top of this, the method of the exchange follows a line of commitment and this means that everyone has to take the open seed pledge. In other words, they can’t get seeds through the OSSI and then use them with a patent to undo all of the work that has been done. The OSSI also has a lot of crops that are “free seed” and this means that they can be used in any way the farmers want. This is an attempt to try and give people the best results out of their seed as well as working with them to try and help them to exchange the seeds that they need. Thirdly, the Open Source Seed Initiative do everything they can to try and make sure that the seeds they do monitor are unencumbered from any legal restrictions and that they can be sold, bred, saved and even shared as much as the owner wants.

What’s Open Source?

Open source is a way of mandating the seeds that are in the pledge to make them available for everyone to use. This is the best way to make sure that the seeds remain free as well as making sure that everyone is able to use them in any way they see fit. This was actually originally intended for computer software, so when you have an open source model, it means that the code or even the software itself can be used for anything and there is no copyright either. This makes sure that nobody can come along and charge for the use of the basic software and that it has a mechanism in place to make sure that it stays free for everyone.

Open Source Seeds

OSSI 2015 model

An open source seed is a type of plant or seed variety where the genetics are not restricted in any way. In other words, you can’t put a patent on it and you can’t cover it with any intellectual property rights. The seeds that are OSSI pledged are open source in the fact that if you want to use them, you can but you first have to agree to the pledge and this is the main thing that a lot of people don’t know a lot about. When you take the pledge, you are agreeing that you won’t charge for the use of the seed, but you can easily make it so the seed can be used for any purpose, even if it has been modified by you.