Freeing crop genetics through the Open Source Seed Initiative

For millennia, seeds have been freely available to use for farming and plant breeding without restriction. Within the past century, however, intellectual property rights (IPRs) have threatened this tradition. In response, a movement has emerged to counter the trend toward increasing consolidation of control and ownership of plant germplasm. One effort, the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI, www.osseeds.org), aims to ensure access to crop genetic resources by embracing an open source mechanism that fosters exchange and innovation among farmers, plant breeders, and seed companies. Plant breeders across many sectors have taken the OSSI Pledge to create a protected commons of plant germplasm for future generations.

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