I received a fat packet in mail, full of seeds with unusual names—Magma Mustard; Flashy Lightning Lettuce; Lemon Pastel Calendula; Cherry Vanilla Quinoa—and an even more unusual but evocative note stuck on the packets.
This Open Source Seed pledge is intended to ensure your freedom to use the seed contained herein in any way you choose, and to make sure those freedoms are enjoyed by all subsequent users. By opening this packet, you pledge that you will not restrict others’ use of these seeds and their derivatives by patents, licenses, or any other means. You pledge that if you transfer these seeds or their derivatives they will also be accompanied by this pledge.
Welcome to the Open Source Seed Initiative, a group that includes scientists, citizens, plant breeders, farmers, seed companies, and gardeners, and has its origins in both the open source software movement and in the realization among plant breeders and social scientists that continued restrictions on seed may hinder our ability to improve our crops and provide access to genetic resources.
Jack Kloppenburg, Professor, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, and one of the founders of OSSI, contacted me a couple of years ago, just around the time I joined CC full-time. He was hoping for a CC-type license for the seeds. CC’s focus, however, is restricted to copyright. And, at least for now, copyright is an area that keeps our hands full. However, OSSI’s goals are very much in line with CC’s mission, to free information, to make it flow from those who create it to those who want to use it, with least impedance. And, what better example of information than a seed in which the very blueprint of life is embedded.
Jack’s email signature reads, “Well,” she said, “you have a high tolerance for lunatics, don’t you?” Knowing Jack, that sounds about right. You’ve got to be crazy to be able to change the world.
Yes Jack, let’s talk, heck, let’s not just talk, but let’s actually collaborate and spread the seeds of change.