Global Coalition of Open Source Seed Initiatives
GOSSI is an international coalition of organizations, individuals - farmers, seed keepers, plant breeders, activists - working to ensure that seeds can be freely used and shared in perpetuity
GOSSI envisions a world in which all seeds are free to be used, saved, shared, and bred by anyone. GOSSI's mission is to support networks of collaborating breeders, seed companies and farmers who are committed to developing, sharing and distributing seeds that are unencumbered by restrictions on use.
The historical freedoms to access and use seeds are now being rapidly eroded by the mutually reinforcing trends of concentrating corporate power and proliferating legal and administrative rules. Farmers worldwide increasingly find themselves unable to legally save, share, sell, or breed with their own seeds. Critically, these restrictions also affect small seed companies and breeders in universities, public agencies, and not-for-profit organizations. To respond to the challenges of climate change and social inequality we urgently need to enlarge – not narrow - the diversity and creativity of breeders and institutions available for crop improvement.
The Open Source Alternative
To the interlocked challenges of concentrated corporate power and use restrictions on seeds, a variety of initiatives around the world have found “open source” and “copyleft” approaches to be a compelling alternative. Open source seeds are seeds, whose distribution and/or sale are accompanied by a formal commitment to preserve the rights of farmers, gardeners, and breeders to freely use, save, replant, and improve them. Critically, this responsibility is extended to their progeny and derivatives. This copyleft feature creates the needed protection for a commons that is open to those who will share and excludes those who will not share. Anyone may freely use open source seed – grow it, propagate it, and breed with it – as long as they agree to pass those freedoms on to others.
GOSSI has adopted a set of core principles to which all open source seed projects adhere:
- Anyone may freely use open source seed - that is, grow it, save it, propagate it, develop it further, and use it for breeding.
- Recipients of open source seed may not privatize the seed or its progeny through exclusive intellectual property rights or other use restrictions.
- Recipients of open source seed must assign the same rights and obligations to subsequent recipients.
- The breeder of open source seed shall be recognized through attribution of credit.
- Benefits shall be shared all along the seed value chain.
GOSSI's member organizations are committed to working together for
- Learning. To maintain internal fora for members for mutual learning, for the exchange of ideas, and for strengthening members’ work;
- Cooperation. To enhance cooperation among GOSSI members on research and development issues of mutual interest.
- Public engagement. To develop means for sharing members' ideas with those outside the platform and for assisting those who want to create their own open source seed initiatives;
- Advocacy. To develop means for participating in and influencing debates, consultations, and policy development on the governance of seed systems at the national and international levels;
- Fundraising. To solicit core funding to support implementation of GOSSI's objectives.
People and organizations all over the world have been inspired by the potential of open source approaches for seed freedom. Open source is not just hypothetical, it is now a system that has been enacted and is working in multiple locations in the Global North and the Global South. Additionally, there are supportive NGOs, individuals, scientists, plant breeders and experts on seeds. Membership in GOSSI may be granted to organizations and individuals sending a letter of intent and agreement with GOSSI’s principles and objectives.
• Agrecol - OpenSourceSeeds, Germany [Link]
• Bioversity International, Uganda [Link]
• Bioleft, Argentina [Link]
• Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, India [Link]
• Earth Net Foundation, Thailand [Link]
• Instituto de Ecologia, Mexico
• Masipag, Philippines [Link]
• Open Source Seed Initiative, USA [Link]
• Seed Savers Network, Kenya [Link]
• Rete Semi Rurali, Italy [Link]
Jack Kloppenburg, OSSI
Johannes Kotschi, OpenSourceSeeds - Agrecol
Anabel Marin, Bioleft - Cenit (Chair)
Gloria Otieno, Bioversity
Georie Pitong, Masipag
Shalini Bhutani, Legal Researcher/Policy Analyst
Daniel Wanjama, Seed Savers Network