Open Source Seeds (OSS) stands for fighting market concentration in the seed sector and for establishing a non-private, commonly owned seed sector.
It has been set up to legally protect seed as a common good, which has not been possible before. OSS provides and cares for a legal tool -a licence html - for all those who want to make seed a common good.
We have developed the open-source seed licence as a way to prevent patents and variety protection. This counters the approach of the private seed industry that is based on intellectual property rights. The open-source licence ensures that seed can be used by everyone and forbids its privatisation. This also applies to enhancements to the seed.
# Aspirational Goals
- rethink agriculture: "Instead of growing only a few varieties over a large area, we need lots of different varieties." - promote diversity instead of monoculture: "Only if the varieties are suited to the local conditions they will produce good yields without lots of fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation water." - develop plant varieties for the future, "that can tolerate sites with poor soils and challenging climatic conditions. This is essential to adapt to climate change and achieve food security." - promote varieties with ecological potential: "Only if the varieties are suited to the local conditions they will produce good yields without lots of fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation water." - restore crop seeds as a common good: because "The trend towards seed monopolies threatens food security and restrains the ability of agriculture to adapt to climate change". Diversity trumps uniformity. - secure free use of seeds
# When did it start?
The process started in 2011 with a few workshops of Agrecol, where the question was raised if the rampant privatization in the seed sector could be challenged in a similar way as proprietarian software: through a licence.
In 2012, concreter first ideas about "Biolinux" have been discussed in German speaking countries. A research project followed to study the legal environment and the feasability, at the same time community building took place, especially the identification of farmers and breeders who would apply the licence to their new varieties.
In 2016 OSS went public. With tremendous repercussion in the media [http://www.opensourceseeds.org/informationen#presse html), and the wider public.
# Inspired by
# How do they work?
Use open-source licensing against patents and variety protection We have developed the open-source seed licence as a way to prevent patents and variety protection. Stop privatisation with licensing It provides and cares for a legal tool -a licence- for all those who want to make seed a common good.
Open Source Seeds provides open-source licences, that is legal protection to new varieties, breeding lines and populations. It advises farmers, breeders, seed propagators and the general public (media) about the purpose and functioning of the licence, informs you about licensed varieties and much more.
Restore crop seeds as a common good Seed used to be a common good: it was so for thousands of years. All over the world, crops have been cultivated, enhanced and bred by farmers. This practice resulted in a rich diversity of crops and varieties that belonged to all and was used without any restrictions. Only in the last century did seed start to be privatised. This trend has produced the monopolies of today. Seed must be utilised freely We are a group of plant breeders, agronomists, lawyers and commons activists who fight for the free use of seed. Free access to seed is the basis for diversity in plant breeding as well as of crops and their varieties.
Commonly owned seed presents more than just an input in agricultural production. Their usage benefits the whole society and is essential for maintaining biodiversity, cultural landscapes, ecosystem system services as well as the capacity to adapt to climate change.
# Fostering Peer Governance in Commons
To Assure Commoners' Consent in Decisionmaking, Open Source Seeds went through a few years of consultation and research among farmers (especially of organic farming), breeders and commons-experts and other stake-holders. As a result they describe their purpose, vision and strategy as follows html .
Set Semi-Permeable Boundaries: ADD TEXT HERE
Relationalize Property: DAVID DISCUSS; THIS COULD BE A GOOD EXAMPLE
Honor Transparency in a Sphere of Trust: ADD TEXT HERE
Self-Monitor, Mediate & Sanction: ADD TEXT HERE
Plant breeding that aims to create commons is a non-profit rather than a profit-making economic activity; it must be clearly distinguished from seed production, which has an economic character.
The problem is, if (usually small and local) breeders forego variety protection and grant unrestricted access to their varieties, they risk others (including companies) converting "their" varieties into a private good, meaning that common goods could be created but not sustained.
Therefor, OSS developed a way to Beat the Bounds of market-driven way seed production and to stop privatization BY licencing THROUGH licencing. The OSS licence is a legal mecanism, that halts the growing concentration in the management and commercialization of plant genetic resources.
We currently see no way to counter legally established intellectual property rights other than the legal protection of common goods. In the long run, we hope that society will change its values, making intellectual property rights and the open-source licence redundant.
Finance Commons Public Circuits. Open Source Seeds rejects the argument, that it would be impossible to finance plant breeding without royalties from plant variety protection or patents on seeds. The history of plant breeding speaks against this assumption: a compulsory levy has never been there primarily. Even today, in many (especially developing) countries, plant breeding mostly does not follow a business model based on royalties.
OSS calls for a combination of funding mecanisms (private, commons and public), as commonly stuarded seeds benefit the society at large: "Not only farmers and direct users should be engaged in covering the costs. Processors, traders and consumers - the whole value chain - and beyond that the government, should contribute."
Many organic cereal and vegetable breeders in Europe finance their breeding activities partly through a voluntary “variety development contributions” (Züchtungsbeitrag) that are negotiated between breeders, seed producers and farmers. Some charge a small levy on traded items or raise funds from government programmes and donors. The funds generated in this way are still small but growing, see: “Who pays for seeds?”, pdf .
Accept State Mediation & Support if Needed: ADD TEXT HERE
# See also