It’s seed catalog season! Keep an eye out for the OSSI logo and name next to varieties in your seed catalogs and online this season. Know that when you purchase and grow OSSI-Pledged varieties, you are supporting an independent, diversified seed system. You can find descriptions, photos, and sources for OSSI-Pledged varieties on our searchable database. It is now possible to search the database for varieties that were bred in organic systems, in addition to searching by crop, plant breeder, seed company, and other criteria.
OSSI successfully ran its first on-line fundraising campaign, and raised $14,000 to support our work. Many, many thanks to all of you who contributed to our end-of-year fundraising campaign. If you missed that campaign, you can donate to support our work at any time. Your support is critical to keeping our operations running. Even a small donation goes a long way.
OSSI t-shirts are now for sale. They are organic cotton, very soft and comfortable, and carry the OSSI logo on front and “Free the Seed!” on the back. All proceeds go to support our work. Get yours today!
OSSI has been awarded a grant from the Clif Bar Family Foundation to work on putting point-of-sale branding of OSSI-Pledged varieties in grocery stores and farmers’ markets. We want to expand awareness of seed sovereignty and OSSI-Pledged varieties from the seed to the eater. Stay tuned.
OSSI has developed a warm and cooperative relationship with Seed Savers Exchange. One immediate result is that SSE’s new on-line as well as print editions of the Garden Seed Inventory will henceforth label all OSSI-Pledged varieties with the OSSI logo and the name of the breeder, and will include the Pledge in the beginning of the book.
OSSI continues to be successful in spreading the word about open source seed and OSSI-Pledged varieties to farmers and gardeners as well as academic plant breeders and the wider community.
- In October, OSSI Board member Jack Kloppenburg spoke at the “Open Source Seed Systems for Africa” workshop, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There, he shared OSSI’s experience, ideas and OSSI-Pledged seeds with farmers, activists, breeders, and scientists representing a variety of NGOs and national and international institutions. A group from Uganda is now working to develop their own version of open source seeds. Here’s a video of the talk Jack presented to this group.
- A 4,000-word article, “Open Source Success,” by Carol Deppe ran in the January (Seed) issue of Acres/USA. (Included in this issue of Free the Seed.) Carol was also interviewed by Peak Moments TV about OSSI and published on their YouTube channel. She also gave a workshop on OSSI at the July Seed Savers Exchange campout.
- C.R. Lawn gave the keynote address, “To “Own” Our Seed We Must Own Our Seed” at the NOFA-NY conference, drawing heavily on the work he has done with OSSI. Claire Luby and C.R. Lawn also presented on a panel on intellectual property rights at the NOFA-NY conference.
- On the academic side, Claire Luby and Irwin Goldman published their study of how intellectual property rights govern carrot genetic and phenotypic diversity in PLOS One in December. Luby, C.H., J.C. Dawson, and I.L. Goldman. 2016. “Assessment and accessibility of phenotypic and genotypic diversity of carrot (Daucus carota var. sativus) cultivars commercially available in the United States.” PLOS One. 11(12): e0167865. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0167865
- Claire Luby represented OSSI as part of a panel titled: “Genetic Sovereignty: Seeds, Breeds and Wild Species”, at the Food Sovereignty Symposium and Festival in Madison, WI, in March along with Rowen White of Sierra Seeds and Julie Dawson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- OSSI was highlighted in Rachel Cernansky’s piece: “How ‘Open Source’ Seed Producers from the US to India are Changing Global Food Production.” Originally published in Ensia magazine, it has been reprinted in many different outlets, including Vox and Global Voices, and has also been translated into several different languages.
- Teresa Podoll of Prairie Road Organic Seeds featured OSSI on their blog in January.
- Tessa Patterson included OSSI in an article on the Save the Earth Co-op blog, titled: “What? My Homegrown Cabbages are Patented?!”
Finally, Open Source Seed Initiative has made it into a textbook! OSSI appears in a special box in the new book The Sociology of Food and Agriculture 2nd edition, by Michael Carolan, published in 2016. See The Sociology of Food and Agriculture.
Claire Luby is half-time Executive Director of OSSI and half-time postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in plant breeding and plant genetics. Claire’s research examines the impact of intellectual property rights on freedom to operate for plant breeding.In addition, in collaboration with Irwin Goldman, Claire developed eight intellectual-property-free populations of carrot germplasm based upon market and color classes and released them as OSSI-Pledged varieties, thus providing ideal sources of material that all interested can use to breed new open source carrot varieties. Claire is also a co-founder of the Student Organic Seed Symposium (Photo: Matthew Dillon)
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