Open Source Seed Initiative : Fair and Open Access to plant genetic resources worldwide

The Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) is dedicated to maintaining fair and open access to plant genetic resources worldwide in order to ensure the availability of germplasm to farmers, gardeners, breeders, and communities of this and future generations.


OSSI - established in 2012 by a group of plant breeders, farmers, and advocates – aims to support education and outreach that promotes fair and open access (promoting sharing rather than restricting access) to plant genetic resources, to underpin a diversified and decentralized seed industry, essential to a sustainable food system.

The core strategy for achieving these goals is the dissemination and propagation of the OSSI Pledge and of OSSI-Pledged varieties, both of which preserve the rights of farmers, gardeners, and breeders to freely use, save, replant, and improve seed of OSSI-Pledged material.


Originally developed for computer software, the Open Source idea makes something like computer code, or seeds, freely available for use, and makes sure it stays freely available. The material is placed permanently in the public domain. It can still be modified, shared, bought, sold, and reproduced. Some people might may choose to improve the material to make something new. But the original material, and any derivatives must remain free for others to use forever, and cannot be restricted through patents and licenses.


is seed of a plant variety the genetics of which cannot be restricted by patents or other intellectual property rights. OSSI-Pledge seeds are available for unrestricted use by anyone who agrees to the OSSI Pledge.

The OSSI Pledge requires that any subsequent distribution of the seed, or seed bred from it, are accompanied by the Pledge. In this way, OSSI develops an expanding pool of genetic resources that are available now and in the future for unrestricted use by scientists, farmers, and gardeners.

OSSI-Pledged seed is considered to be "freed seed" (referring to freedom and not price):  this means that its use for any purpose cannot be restrictedBy accepting the seed and its Pledge the user commits to allowing others freedom to use the material or derivatives of the material.

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".

OSSI ‘Freed’ Seed : these varieties have been designated as Open Source by the people who bred them.

GET INVOLVED: join as an OSSI partner seed company, or, if you are a plant breeder, to Pledge a variety. 

# OSSI Partner Seed Companies sell OSSI-Pledged varieties, acknowledge the OSSI breeders in their variety descriptions, label OSSI-Pledged varieties with the OSSI logo, and include the Pledge and information about OSSI in their catalogs and on their websites.

# The Seed List of OSSI-Pledged varieties gives complete descriptions and photos for each OSSI-Pledged variety and links to every OSSI Partner Seed Company that carries each variety.

Through its educational and outreach activities, OSSI creates awareness of the value of purchasing “freed seed” and guides customers to its Seed Company Partners. OSSI is thereby creating a market for ethically produced, “freed seed” analogous to the markets for “fair trade” and “organic” products.


Source: Open Source Seeds Initiative

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