Talk about swimming upstream, but overall feeling so glad that open-source seed initiatives are springing up around the world.
This in-depth story explains why the trend toward patenting seeds and traits locks farmers and amateur breeders out of the process of incrementally improving crop genetics. Big mistake, unless you trust the biotech-seed companies to deploy their plant breeding skills and investment capital to produce better tasting, healthier and more resilient fruits, veggies, and grains, rather than maximizing their sales and profits via higher prices for GE seeds and additional income from the pesticides necessary to take advantage of the traits delivered via “modern biotechnology.”
As the story describes, plant breeders are challenged by numerous restrictions due to patenting of not only specific types of plants, but specific traits such as the curliness or color of a lettuce leaf. This makes it very hard to breed a new variety, since it forces breeders to be extra careful not to affect traits that are protected by intellectual property rights.
Borrowing from the tech world, enterprising breeders are trying to make their job easier by promoting the Open Source Seed Initiative, whereby growers pledge that the seeds they create will remain available to others for perpetuity. Many sustainable ag advocates hope that diverse, local seed sources promoted through this initiative will have a critical role to play in Global Food Security.
“How ‘Open Source’ Seed Producers from the U.S. to India Are Changing Global Good Production,” Rachel Cernansky, Ensia, December 12, 2016.