The OSSI Pledge

“You have the freedom to use these OSSI- Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include this Pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.”

The Four Open Source Seed Freedoms:

  1. The freedom to save or grow seed for replanting or for any other purpose.
  2. The freedom to share, trade, or sell seed to others.
  3. The freedom to trial and study seed and to share or publish information about it.
  4. The freedom to select or adapt the seed, make crosses with it, or use it to breed new lines and varieties.

What is “freed seed”?

We refer to seed of OSSI-Pledged varieties as “freed seed,” rather than “free” seed in order to emphasize that OSSI-Pledged seed is freed with respect to use, but not necessarily free in price.  Seed companies can still sell OSSI-Pledged seed to their customers. OSSI also accepts certain contracts or agreements in order to facilitate seed increase and/or provide benefit sharing to breeders. OSSI permits any contract or agreement for seed increase and/or benefit sharing for OSSI-Pledged varieties in which the restrictions on the use of the seeds are limited to the two contracting parties. OSSI does not accept arrangements in which there are restrictions on the seed that extend beyond the two contracting parties. Seed companies can pass no restrictions on to breeders or customers. From the point of view of breeders or customers, OSSI-Pledged varieties must be unrestricted.

This “copyleft” commitment ensures that the Pledge is transmitted with any further distribution of the seed or the seed of any new varieties or germplasm bred from it. The Pledge has both moral and legal force. In this way, OSSI preserves the unencumbered exchange of plant germplasm for breeding purposes and guarantees the rights of farmers and gardeners to save and replant seed.

How to Pledge

  1. First, the breeder fills out, signs, and sends to OSSI the Variety Designation document that involves the Pledging itself. (“I _________________, as the breeder or co-breeder of the variety, populations, or plant materials listed below, hereby designate…”). Find our Variety Designation Agreement here: Open Source Seed Initiative Variety Designation agreement. You can also contact us with questions.
  2. Second, the breeder provides the OSSI Variety Review Committee with information about the variety and how it was bred. One way to do this is to email one of the members of the Variety Review Committee listed below and tell us about the variety or materials you want to Pledge. (All Variety Review Committee members are OSSI Board members as well as fellow plant breeders.) If you prefer, you can instead provide this information by filling out the breeding information form (‘Contribute a Variety‘). The Variety Review Committee then evaluates the variety and determines whether it is appropriate to be accepted as an OSSI-Pledged variety. Feel free to contact a member of the Variety Review Committee if you have any questions.

Variety Review Committee contact info:

  • Carol Deppe carol.deppe at