Katherine Mangu-Ward on Freeing the Seeds


Bryce Richter/University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Open Source Seed Initiative wants to make carrot seeds more like software. That may seem like an odd project, writes Reason managing editor Katherine Mang-Ward, but consider this: It's currently possible to patent plants with certain traits, whether they are created through traditional breeding or biotech modification. Worried that the trend of increasingly vague, aggressively enforced patents was discouraging innovation, a group of scientists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison got together in 2012 with the goal of producing and distributing seeds outside of the conventional intellectual property framework,