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Would making genetic resources “open source” reduce GMO controversy?

| | April 30, 2014
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The creation of free software 30 years ago has had a profound effect on computing, and helped fuel the rise of the Internet, with which it has a symbiotic relationship. Food and who controls it are arguably even more important issues for the world, and it would be nice to think that, despite its modest beginnings, the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) might one day have as great an impact as its digital forebear.

The most distinguishing aspect of OSSI is the idea that genetic resources – in the form of seeds – are set aside for humanity to use in any way it sees fit. By attaching a free seed pledge to packets of open source seed, these genetic resources cannot be patented or otherwise legally protected, making them essentially available in perpetuity in a protected commons. If they were available only in a traditional commons, people could obtain them, breed with them, and restrict their use through patents or licenses. But in this commons they must remain free. Hence the phrase “Free the Seed!”

Read the full, original article: Open Source Seed Initiative: ‘Free The Seed!’

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