Open Source Seeds: An Agro-Giant Alternative

Gail Sullivan | Washington Post | April 18, 2014

A group of University of Wisconsin scientists have made 29 different seed varieties available for anyone who promises not to patent them.

The Open Source Seed Initiative’s offerings read like a hipster’s grocery list: kale, quinoa, barley and a type of squash called the “Delicata Zeppelin.” It includes 14 crops with 29 seed varieties.

The project is inspired by open-source software, which can be used and altered by anyone. Users can’t copyright it or otherwise claim rights that would restrict its use.

Seeds were once traded by farmers and gardeners. Today, they are intellectual property, mostly of Monsanto, a St. Louis biotech firm that once made DDT and Agent Orange, and is now the dominant supplier of genetically modified, herbicide resistant seeds to U.S. farmers.