Envisioning the Future of Open Source Seed

  • Speakers:
  • Jack Kloppenburg, Andrew Still

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The Disruptive Innovation Festival is an online festival of ideas that asks the question: what if we could redesign everything? During the DIF, we’ll be asking our speakers to tell us what they think is in store for the future of the economy. While watching you can chip in with your thoughts and questions: sign up for a free My DIF account and ask your question through the discussion forum below the live stream!

Today, only a handful of companies account for most of the world’s commercial plant breeding and seed sales. Increasingly, patenting and restrictive contracts are used to enhance the power and control of these companies over the seeds and the farmers that feed the world. The Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to keeping agricultural seed in the hands of many rather than in the control of just a few. Open Source seeds are not free seed but "freed" seed – seeds liberated from the constraints of intellectual property restrictions. OSSI has developed an open source Pledge to create a protected commons for seeds that ensures they will remain available for all to use now and into the future.

Open Source is normally associated with technology and gadgets, but in this session you will learn why it may have vital importance to our future food supply...


Jack Kloppenburg

Jack Kloppenburg

Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Board member, Open Source Seed Initiative

Jack Kloppenburg is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has studied the social impacts of biotechnology and the controversy over control of genetic resources. He is the author of First the Seed: The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology, 1492-2000 (Cambridge University Press). He is currently jazzed by the potential of food sovereignty and by the possible application of open source principles to plant breeding. He is a founder of the Open Source Seed Initiative.

Andrew Still

Andrew Still

Owner and Plant Breeder, Adaptive Seeds

Andrew Still began working on organic farms in 2003. In 2006, he & his wife, Sarah Kleeger, started The Seed Ambassadors Project to promote seed stewardship locally and internationally through seed swaps, seed saving workshops, and the distribution of rare and heritage varieties of seeds. In 2009 they started Adaptive Seeds, a farm-based seed company, as a way to further distribute the varieties they had collected with The Seed Ambassadors Project. Adaptive Seeds offers organic, open-pollinated, diverse and resilient seed varieties for ecologically-minded farmers, gardeners, and seed savers.


Claire Luby

Claire Luby

Executive Director, Open Source Seed Initiative

Claire Luby is a founder and current Executive Director of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI). Her work at OSSI focuses on providing an alternative release mechanism for plant varieties based on open source principles. The tool OSSI uses to keep germplasm available is the OSSI Pledge, which is based on ideas from the free and open source software movement. OSSI now works with 38 plant breeders, who have pledged some 375 varieties of 50 crops, and 48 partnering seed companies who sell OSSI-Pledged varieties.

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