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Biotech Earth Science

Plant Breeders Release 'Open Source Seeds' 136

mr crypto (229724) writes "A group of scientists and food activists are launching a campaign to change the rules that govern seeds. They're releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new 'open source pledge' that's intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely."
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Plant Breeders Release 'Open Source Seeds'

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  • by MrDoh! ( 71235 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @03:00AM (#46785797) Homepage Journal
    It's a sorry state of affairs that this has had to be done. I wonder if I can open source my DNA before someone else patents it.
    • by Errol backfiring ( 1280012 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @04:10AM (#46785953) Journal
      Now I know for sure. The world has gone mad. Should I tell my neighbours that the seeds of my vegetable garden are subject to the General Plant Licence?
      • by rgbatduke ( 1231380 ) <> on Friday April 18, 2014 @08:31AM (#46786623) Homepage

        The interesting question will be GPL viral. So far, Monsanto et. al. have invoked a viral clause to protect the genes of their products that are literally carried by the wind to non-purchaser's fields who happen to grow their own seed crop. Imagine the impact of having genes carried the other way! Sorry Monsanto, the hybrid crop is now GPL, unless you take steps to prevent e.g. corn pollen from blowing in the wind.

        Never work, of course, but it is a nice fantasy.


      • no, just tell them by saying "hello" they accept your EULA...

      • We bought a lemon tree, then we were told we had to destroy it because it wasn't licensed. Got a letter from the feds no less (well, the USDA or something like that, but anyway.) What did that poor tree ever do to anyone? It just wanted to self-replicate and make us free food.

        This is absolutely needed. Because yes, the world has gone mad. For thousands of fucking years: It's called dominion.

        • Reminds me of the book Amazon revoked from Kindles because they didn't have electronic media distribution in a contract. In an even broader sense, we might need a law that says once you've paid for something and have taken possession of it, unless it's in a general class of forbidden possessions (bombs, stolen goods, embargoed items, etc.), then it can't be taken from you. Not to mention something else I think you were implying, that no one else can force you to kill a living thing (probably with exceptions
        • We bought a lemon tree, then we were told we had to destroy it because it wasn't licensed.

          This implies that you brought a ready-grown tree. Maybe only a few kilos, but that still takes a year or so to achieve, so they're relatively expensive. (This reminds me to water the 2m tall lemon tree sitting in the living room window, which we started from a seed in 2006. With pot and soil, it's over 30kilos.)

          It just wanted to self-replicate and make us free food.

          This, on the other hand, implies that you grew the tr

    • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @04:13AM (#46785961) Homepage

      It doesn't *have* to be done. There's a gigantic number of seeds which are commercially available already, there's many government and private organizations safeguarding these seeds, and the amount of patented seeds is comparatively insignificant. In addition, modern farming operations don't save seeds for future crops.

      In fact, the basic idea behind Monsanto controlling the seed supply has been standard industry practice for 50+ years. Most vegetables commercially grown are F1 hybrids. In 1960, 99% of corn grown was an F1 hybrid. If you buy a Better Boy Tomato, an F1 hybrid also popular for home gardening, there will be little variation between the plants grown. However, the seed from these plants will be unusable. Peas and beans pollinate their own flowers, so for these plants such a strategy isn't practical. However, that doesn't mean the death of the species - even if most commercially grown tomatoes are F1 hybrids where the seeds are unusable, of course there's still a million variety of tomatoes which may be planted from seed (with a little care) and are easily available [].

      This is a symbolic marketing/propaganda move against Monsanto. Monsanto developed a soybean that is invulnerable to the safe, cheap, and environmentally benign herbicide Round-Up. They sell seeds with a contract stipulation that the seeds not be re-sown (again, normal farming practice is to buy all seed anyway), and won a lawsuit against a farmer who intentionally grow a Monsanto crop without paying Monsanto- he would buy the Monsanto crop for the first planting of the year, and use saved seed for the second planting of the year.

      This group imagines that it's hard to find seeds that aren't patented, or at least that it will be in the future, to make some point that you shouldn't be allowed to patent seeds because think of how horrible it would be if you needed to deal with Monsanto to plant a carrot. However, if that future does come to pass, this wouldn't really help - you'd need something with the infrastructure to supply huge amounts of seeds, not just supply fun little seed packets to home gardeners.

      • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @05:14AM (#46786091) Homepage

        Just to clarify. The lawsuit that I'm aware of entailed a farmer using roundup on his field and discovering that some things didn't die. These were volunteers from a neighbouring farmer's field that blew into his. He collected that seed and grew a subsequent crop of roundup resistant plants. While the farmer was not obliged under contract not to replant these seeds, the act of planting was considered patent infringement.

        Personally I'm not a fan of the laws that allow this to happen, but probably this was a good legal judgement. It is important to get the fact right, though. I would have no problem with a seed company selling seed under a contract. I have a fairly big problem with the concept that planting a seed is patent infringement. But that's what the law allows right now.

        • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:44AM (#46786283) Homepage
          Nope that is not the case. What happened is the farmer found some plants that were resistanct to Round-up and had knowledge that the other farmers around him were using the round-up resistant seed.
          He then went and did some additional testing to verify the plants. He then went out and collect the seed from the resistant and did additional seed cleaning to remove plant seed that were not resistant. Once he had a high percent of seed he was sure were round-up resistant he proceed to use that and also to sell it.
          If they had just been seeds he harvested and had not tried to make special use of the round-up resistant nature he would of been ok. That he made special effort to use the round-up resistance nature of the seed he got into trouble.
          • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @10:15AM (#46787159)
            I don't see how that changes things. He was collecting discarded trash from his neighbors, so he didn't enter into agreements there. Monsantos patents on glyphosphate are expired, so using round-up to enrich the trash doesn't change anything. Sneaky, maybe, but seeds blowing off your property are no longer yours.

            I could see how selling the seed would get him into trouble with patents, but that's only reasonable if you accept that patents on living things are reasonable.
            • What really should have happened is that all his Monsanto-using neighbors should have gotten in trouble for allowing their seeds to escape. Since they were the ones who were parties to the agreement with Monsanto, they were the ones who broke that agreement.

              Of course, Monsanto suing its own customers would be bad for business, so it went after the innocent third-party instead...

            • by tomhath ( 637240 )
              It wasn't clear that the seeds escaped. As I recall he had purchased roundup ready seeds in previous years, then suddenly "discovered" that the seed he saved carried the gene. That's how all the cases I've seen have turned out (initial claim that it was wind blown from a neighbor, then admission of guilt), although this might be referring to a special case.
            • Because he knowingly went out of his way to make copies of seeds that he knew were protected by patent law. I hate Monsanto's business strategy, more because I think it completely undermines the potential for genetically modified seeds than anything else. But the guy knew exactly what he was doing. Just because he did it with a field and a bottle of round up instead of a genetics lab doesn't change the facts.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            The problem is, to make that suit go, they claimed (and the court accepted) that there was no way to breed resistance without using their patented gene. That has been disproved. There are a number of weeds that evolved their own independent resistance and at least one researcher bread a food plant that has resistance without using Monsanto's gene or GM techniques.

        • Just to clarify. The lawsuit that I'm aware of entailed a farmer using roundup on his field and discovering that some things didn't die.

          The farmer was Percy Schmeiser []. He intentionally isolated and reused Monsanto's "Roundup-Ready" seeds, over several years, and openly admitted doing so. There was a documentary about him, that got nearly all the facts completely wrong, thus leading to many misconceptions. It is funny that this guy turned into a poster child for the anti-GMO movement.

          Soon this particular issue will be moot. Glyphosate, the herbicide in Roundup, is already off patent, and many of the "Roundup-Ready" seeds go off patent ne

      • by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @05:53AM (#46786191)

        Yep, seems to be about that way. I've got some blue tomato seed that has no patents on it (Dancing With Smurfs, actual name), and no one makes a fuss about it. I don't see what their point is here. I was about to mod you up but since I actually work with plant breeding think I'll give my own 2 cents instead.

        The claim in TFA about being worried about no more germplasm is totally ridiculous. With my blue tomatoes I've got a bunch of heirloom varieties of things (Blue Jade sweet corn, Dragon Tongue bean, Red Kuri squash, Giant Prague celeriac, Star of David okra, and lots more) that can in no way be patented. They are there, and as long as people keep propagating them they'll always be there, free to use. Furthermore, the patents on plants do expire; Honeycrisp apples used to be pateneted, but they're not anymore (by the way, that patent brought in tons of money to the program that developed it, allowing them to develop some other pretty amazing varieties []). And Monsanto (because everyone brings up Monsanto) is not an exception here; their first Roundup Ready soybean goes off patent [] in a few months. That means this very year, farmers can, if they choose, save that variety and plant it for the 2015 crop. I really can't see the problem people have with these sorts of patents, isn't that how things are supposed to work? Develop, patent, recoup losses, then the invention falls to the public domain, and the profit is reinvested for new innovations (ex. SnowSweet apples and DroughtGard corn). Don't like patented plants? Fine, don't grow them, problem solved. And with the 'farmers sued for cross pollination' thing being a myth (no, accidental cross pollination is not the same as intentional selection any more than making a home movie is the same as recording a film in a theater and selling it), so I really don't get the Monsanto hate people are inevitably going to flame up with this. The vast majority of the reasons they are demonized for are nothing but lies, and yet somehow, Monsanto is still the bad guy here, not the weasels lying and being emotionally manipulative to make an extremely important technology look evil via guilt by proxy.

        Additionally, I am envious of these guys if they have a program that has enough money to release things for free, although reading TFA it seems like they will be picking and choosing which is released for free and which is patented, indicating this is just a way to get some good publicity out of things that would otherwise be discarded. I work with a breeding project and you can bet whatever comes out of it will be patented, not because I'm out to get rich (we'd all go corporate if money was the prime concern) but because there is not enough funding for public agriculture research. You think we want to? We don't, but breeding programs need funding. That's a fact of life. Times are hard for funding, and sometimes it seems the only time the public stops long enough to pay attention is to demonize us for saying GMOs don't cause cancer, or autism, or whatever the hell the denialists and conspiracy theorists are prattling on about today. Maybe if everyone called up their local congresscritters and other politicians and demanded more funding for their land grant universities and public agriculture research that wouldn't be the case. Ever been to a corporate lab? Well I have, and it'd be great to have the equipment they can afford. But hey, go on attacking Monsanto and other private breeders for trying to support themselves (anyone think pluots just magically appeared? Someone [] spend a hell of a lot of time and effort developing those, nice to hear from the anti-plant patent crowd that they deserve to get screwed over for it), I'm sure hurting them will make all the actual problems magically disappear.

        All that aside, its damned cool that they're working with quinoa bree

        • by CaptainOfSpray ( 1229754 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:13AM (#46786375)
          The hate for Monsanto also comes from the irresponsibility. They planted Roundup-resistant plants all over while saying "the resistance will never spread to other plants" without actually bothering to check whether that was the case, as if they had never heard of plasmids. Roundup-resistant weeds with the Monsanto gene in them were found IN THE NEXT FIELD BELONGING TO A DIFFERENT LANDOWNER four months after the first crops were planted. Since then, Monsanto have lied repeatedly about the spread of resistance, and what the likely consequences might be - and denied having any responsibility for the consequences.
          • How the hell did that get modded informative, that's blatantly false.

            They planted Roundup-resistant plants

            'They' here being farmers, do you have any idea how supply chains work?

            all over while saying "the resistance will never spread to other plants" without actually bothering to check whether that was the case, as if they had never heard of plasmids.

            Yes, your degree from Google University means you know more than all the scientists at Monsanto. And what the hell do plasmids have to do with anything?

            Roundup-resistant weeds with the Monsanto gene in them were found IN THE NEXT FIELD BELONGING TO A DIFFERENT LANDOWNER four months after the first crops were planted

            Man, if horizontal gene transfer happened that easily we'd be living in a very different world, however, that didn't happen. This is evolution 101 here; apply a strong selective pressure over a large area upon a fast r

        • by plover ( 150551 )

          A lot of the animosity towards Monsanto comes from their overall behavior. Creating the terminator gene is first to mind. Next are the numerous allegations about misconduct: complaints that they do inadequate studies, they hire certain researchers expecting certain study outcomes, that they tamper with study results, and that they have bribed government officials. However, most of those reports come from the wacko anti-GMO crowd (who are really a bunch of anti-anything idiots), so it's hard to know if th

          • Creating the terminator gene is first to mind.

            They didn't create the terminator gene, they bought the company (Delta & Pine Land Co.) that did. They then promised not to use it when people got angry about it, and have never commercialized it, although people are also angry that GE crops can cross pollinate with non-GE crops (like every other outcrossing plant species on the planet). They're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

            The biggest gripe I have is their drive to produce pest- and herbicide-resistant crops

            That's a bit complicated. I believe you have been mislead by the anti-GE propaganda because within the proper cont

            • by plover ( 150551 )

              Thank you for your answer. There is almost no end to the FUD stream, and as I said, it's hard to pick out the signal from the noise.

          • And one other thing I forgot to add:

            Had they focused their modifications only on creating high yield and high nutrition crops

            There is no single gene for yield. Yield is a factor of weather, soil fertility, moisture, biotic conditions like disease, pest and weed pressure, ect. You take away pest pressure, and you don't think yield won't go up? well, it kind of doesn't, not in developed countries anyway, where we were spraying pesticides to control pests. But in developed countries, things [] are [] very [] different. [] So, you really can't say they don't improve yield, or sustainability. Even the mu

        • What you're saying sounds like corporations are paying for development of these varieties exclusively. Are any of these programs partly funded by public monies? Do the facilities or researchers involved at UMN receive any part of their funding/salaries from the public?
      • by johanw ( 1001493 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:53AM (#46786319)

        "This is a symbolic marketing/propaganda move against Monsanto"

        Good. Death to Monsanto.

        • by tomhath ( 637240 )
          Actually it's a guerrilla marketing/propaganda campaign to make people accept GMO crops.
        • Yeah, accusations equal guilt! Who cares to stop to do some fact checking to see if they are actually doing anything people claim they do? And while we're at it, death to Merck for their autism causing vaccines!

      • There's actually a bit more to this. As a really avid home grower (albeit, getting closer and closer to actually selling some stuff), I've seen another type of patent that growers need to watch for, besides just the GMO stuff. It's called plant variety protection. [] Now PVP IP is definitely less restrictive than general patents, but it is still another hurdle that growers need to look out for. Also, as described in that wikipedia article, there are true plant patents fo
      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        safe, cheap, and environmentally benign herbicide Round-Up

        It should be noted that it is only Glyphosate that has been tested to be safe and benign (breaks down fast), not Round-Up which includes various untested surfactants (especially bad for skin though generally low LD50 levels) and such. Not only that, if you look at the price of Round-up in comparison to some other herbicides such as 2-4-D it's arguable about the cheap part.

        • Somewhat OT, but Thanks for pointing out the bit about the surfactants, which I've suspected is part of the "magic" for a while. Bought some cheap glyphosate weed killer and it didn't work nearly as well as the Roundup, and that's the only difference I could find on the label. FWIW, I think when I added just a little bit of dish detergent to the off brand stuff and gently mixed, it worked a bit better afterwards.
      • by Kremmy ( 793693 )
        I think you need to take a step back and understand that this industry standard practice for 50+ years is Bad Agriculture. You used the words safe, cheap, and environmentally benign regarding Round-Up - guess what, plants wouldn't need to be given a resistance against it if it was environmentally benign. We're talking about a poison whose sole purpose is to kill living things. If you can't keep seed and keep your crop rolling, that is the opposite of sustainable. If you are forced to purchase seed every ye
      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        I knew someone in Los Angeles who had disposed of some tired storebought tomatoes by tossing them into the front yard for the birds to eat. The seeds volunteered all over the place and after a few years of benign neglect, their yard was one big self-renewing tomato patch -- producing perfectly edible tomatoes, all of the same variety. Apparently whatever they'd bought at the grocery were not hybrids.

    • You are so right.

      How on earth can we feel proud at this initiative when we are overwhelmed with rage at the sheer insanity injustice of the context in which this initiative has to exist at all. And the fact that this bullshit is being exported through corrupt politicians to 3rd world countries where people starve every day.

      Fuck Monsanto and all their ilk and damn them to hell.

      • by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:48AM (#46786303)

        Yeah, fuck them for blocking important technological advances like insect resistant crops and lifesaving Golden Rice! And fuck them for suing farmers for unknowingly having their crops cross pollinated, even though that never actually happened. Oh wait...what are we angry about again? You know, before you start damning folks to hell (it wouldn't be the first time I've gotten that one), maybe you should check to see that you're not being lied to and emotionally manipulated by people out to advance their own social, political, and economic agendas.

        And the fact that this bullshit is being exported through corrupt politicians to 3rd world countries where people starve every day.

        Well, I agree with that, but I think we're talking about very different bullshits. I'm talking about the fact that, if the field of plant improvement had not been set back by 15 years by activists using Monsanto as a generic boogeyman, we'd be awash in all sorts of beneficial crop traits. Instead, publicly funded GE crops stopped with the extremely successful Rainbow papaya. Bangladesh is just now getting Bt eggplant, and its about time (and just wait, when it inevitability makes it to India, there's going to be a shitstorm among idiot activists who've never stepped food in either a farm or a lab). Golden Rice still has yet to be released. Something is very wrong here, and this time it isn't the big corporation.

        • by johanw ( 1001493 )

          Preventing lifeforms to be patented would solve most of the problems. For me, it's not the GE plants themselves but the misuse of artificial scarcity (aka "intellectual property) laws to monopolize them.

          • For me, it's not the GE plants themselves but the misuse of artificial scarcity (aka "intellectual property) laws to monopolize them.

            They're not monopolized though. That's not how patents work (that's like saying Sony has a monopoly on Playstations, it is kind of true, but a monopoly is controlling all of a thing, not all of a particular type of a thing), and anyway, don't like Monsanto, there's Syngenta, or Pioneer, or Bayer. A much more important problem is the over-regulation preventing publicly funded projects from being commercialized. Ending patents won't do much of benefit.

          • Preventing lifeforms to be patented would solve most of the problems.

            Yep, sure would.

            Because noone would bother to develop new plants when they can't even recover the cost of development....

            • by johanw ( 1001493 )

              That's better than artificial monopolies. And if we as society feel such development usefull we can fund it with public money.

            • Depends on the model. Check out how many varieties of potatoes the Inca cultivated. Maybe the reward was the honor of having your child sacrificed, but whatever it was, it must have worked well.
    • River Song would insure none of my DNA was ever used... I was burned in a funeral canoe.
    • "Before the human genome project completed its first draft in 2000, Sulston had fought to keep the genome data freely accessible to researchers around the world. At the same time, Craig Venter was racing to sequence the human genome through his company, Celera, with the intention of charging researchers for access to the information. In 2000, the two sides brokered a deal through the mediation of the UK and US governments and the human genome was put in the public domain." ...That battle was fought already
  • Just (Score:5, Funny)

    by JustOK ( 667959 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @03:10AM (#46785819) Journal
    Just a sec, gotta recompile the kernel.
  • Even the DNA of your plants and your own body. You are vassals of Lord Rothschild. This Universe belongs to the Chosen. Not you, goyim. Now get out of our Universe.

  • The wrong license (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Friday April 18, 2014 @04:09AM (#46785949) Homepage

    The license used is:

    "It basically says these seeds are free to use in any way you want. They can't be legally protected. Enjoy them."

    This is a GPL type license. There is nothing to stop Monsanto from going to a farmer who is using these seeds and saying:

    Pollen from one of our products blew in last year and so these seeds now contain some of our genes, so you now owe us for using these seeds and can't give it away to anyone.

    The only way to deal with Monsanto is to beat them at their own game. One way would be to develop a seed with some novel genes (call them NoGe) and copyright these under something like the GPL. Then grow these seeds upwind of a Monsanto development facility; when, later, Monsanto then sue someone for illegal use of their seeds a NoGe 'owner' could testify that the Monsanto seeds must be allowed free to everyone use due to the 'viral nature' of the GPL. That legal punch up would be interesting to watch!

    • So you are going to start doing what people claim Monsanto is doing but that Monsanto has never done?
      Good job at beating at them at their own game, except only you are playing that game.
    • You are confusing copyright with patents. TFA is about "patent-free" seeds, not GPL copyrighted seeds (if there even is such a thing).
      • by jthill ( 303417 )
        I don't think anything prevents anyone from offering a GPL-style patent license: you're free to use at no further charge however you like, excepting only that if you incorporate it into anything and offer it to others, you must also offer exactly this license.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @04:36AM (#46786013)

    One thing that's sort of buried in the article is this movement is also anti-hybrid, which is not all that surprising. But hybrids offer a definite, measurable benefit to the farmer - not only are they more uniform (important for commercial harvesting), they are invariably more vigorous than open pollinated varieties. Greater vigor per plant means greater profit per plant.

    As a gardener I understand and applaud attempts to develop and improve open pollinated varieties of vegetables and fruits. It's fun to save your own seeds, and OPs have more diverse genes - so they are important to the continued existence of plant species. But it's going to be an uphill battle trying to convince farmers to give up hybrids, if that's really the movement's goal. And I don't think it's really what they should be focussing on. But plant purists can be every bit as inflexible as the most ardent GPL zealot, so I expect philosophy will win out over practicality.

    • by wrook ( 134116 )

      I can see this working very similarly to the free software movement. As you correctly point out, there are already plenty of gardeners who are passionate about seed sharing. The internet allowed free software to be an efficient method of software development and distribution. 30 years on, it has even reached mainstream development. Just look at the percentage of teams using free software development tools (especially in web development).

      In the past, it was difficult for an individual (dare I say hobbyis

      • by Shimbo ( 100005 )

        What if you all agreed that nobody could restrict the future use of these seeds.

        Then the seed companies would lobby for laws to make sharing seeds illegal. If you think that is being paranoid: it's already happened. [] (it didn't pass - that time).

        • The EU law (not passed) referenced in the article you link to is a good example of IP rent-seeking, corporations trying to suppress competition to their patented products by writing laws and getting legislators to pass them.

          The best way to get the gist of the proposed EU law, is to read the FAQ [] the law proponents wrote to defend it. Critics hardly need to add much to the "defense" to show how damning it is.

          Basically it states that no commercial operation (unless small enough to be a "micro-enterprise") can

          • by jthill ( 303417 )
            From the linked FAQ:

            (micro- enterprises are enterprises employing no more than ten persons with an annual turnover or balance sheet not exceeding EUR 2 million).


            Material marketed in small quantities by non-professionals or by micro-enterprises ('niche market material') will be exempted from the registration obligation.


            More specifically, micro-enterprises will be released from the obligation to pay any fees for the registration of their varieties, or for the issuance of official labels for certification. Moreover, micro-enterprises may market niche market material without the obligation to register the concerned plant material.

            Really not seeing anything to support PP's description here. Devil may be in details elsewhere, but PP chose to link this as "support". PP's description of what this FAQ says is simple falsehood.

    • by dbc ( 135354 )

      Well,not quite. It is anti-unstabalized-hybrid. In many cases, a single additional cross will stablize a hybrid. Seed companies don't, because it serves as built-in license enforcement. The reason Monsanto has so much trouble with soy beans is that there is no such thing as an unstable hybrid soy bean. With maize, OTOH, this works great, you can create an unstable hybrid and sell that as the seed companies do now, or with a single additonal cross, stabilize the hybrid.

      • A truly "stabilized" hybrid is usually considered open pollinated - no longer a hybrid. The loss of hybrid vigor is a recognized byproduct of stabilization.

        However, as you allude to, for many varieties of legume the flowers self-pollinate. With soybeans and snap beans in particular, the flowers pollinate themselves before they're even open - which incidentally makes it much more difficult to develop new varieties (whether the goal is a hybrid or the development of a new OP). Species like that have developed

  • IT's called Heriloom and all of them are not patent encumbered.
    Eliminate any and all patents and copyrights on living things is the only answer, Devices that were common on farms, seed cleaners, are illegal because of Monsanto, they target farmers that have them, they go after ANY farmer that does not buy their product, because their GM garbage will cross pollinate to your field and suddenly your GM free crops are now tainted with Monsanto IP and now the property of Monsanto.

    Eliminate the patent possibil

  • The releases should be patented like monsanto with an open license that ensures that if their genetics recombine with anything else it bears the license as well. It should be planted around all monsanto fields, so we slowly chip away at the insanity of proprietary food genetics.

  • by careysub ( 976506 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @10:23AM (#46787227)

    Except for the EULA printed on their packets this is very similar to what the very well established Seed Savers Exchange [] has been doing for decades.

    For reference the actual operative text of the EULA is:

    "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 you will acknowledge the source of these seeds and accompany your transfer with this pledge."

    It is the actual work of the seed savers group - saving, reproducing, distributing seed - that is preserving these varieties for future generations. Imposing this transfer clause seems to make these OSSI varieties less likely to be redistributed, so it may actually have a negative effect on their propagation. I don't see that having someone taking an heirloom variety and developing a patented variety from it is impeding seed saving and exchanging.

    Heirloom varieties are under threat - the number of them in circulation is dropping, and strains are being lost since they do need to be periodically "grown out" to preserve the seed stock. But it is not being caused by heirloom varieties being patented - it is because commercially produced seed is being used by most gardeners for very real conveniences they provide.

  • They should also offer open source shovels and hoes for the farmers. After all, those tractors and harvesters are all patented by evil corporations. The farmers should go back to using hand tools so that we're not permanently addicted to high efficiency farm tools.

    Seriously though, the patented seeds are all developed at great expense to have special properties and resistances. If the farmers don't want to deal with the licenses there are plenty of seeds for them that aren't roundup resistant. The pi
    • Hey, your snark totally helps us feed the world. Thanks.

      I'm guessing you don't know squat about this. Yes, those seeds are developed to oh say, be resistant to Roundup herbacide. Funnily enough after a few generations of insects, so are the insects, and now the farmers are stuck with expensive patented seeds AND a giant herbacide bill, AND it doesn't work anyway because the insects evolved.

      It's a real problem. Liberals DO care about it, because we're fucking smarter than you are, and we care more about

      • by Willuz ( 1246698 )
        You assume that I know nothing then state that your difference of opinion makes your smarter than me. Unfortunately, you support your difference of opinion with absurdly false statements that only succeed in proving your own lack of understanding. I will make no assumptions concerning your intelligence but your conceit has been confirmed by your baseless insults.

        Yes, those seeds are developed to oh say, be resistant to Roundup herbacide. Funnily enough after a few generations of insects, so are the insects

        I am 100% certain that we don't need to worry about INSECTS developing a resistance to a HERBACIDE. I could continue to discuss the pros and con

        • I hold no pride in my mistake. I fixed it above. Despite my brain fart, the problem is still real.

          I am not ignorant. Just tired.... The contempt is very real though. I don't hold it with pride, but it is there.

  • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @01:06PM (#46788611)
    We already have Heirloom seeds. We already have a lot of people dedicated to preserving heirloom seeds. I get what they're trying to do, but naturally occuring expressions shouldn't be patentable anyway. If they're tweaking the seeds and THEN open sourcing them, well, good on them. But they're just breeding them... I'm annoyed this needs to be done, but glad they're doing it.

    Frankly, seeds should be harvested from a region, and kept in a region. Let evolution do the work of keeping them healthy in a particular environment.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!