Bioleft: open seeds

Building an open seed exchange and breeding network

Originally published in

Bioleft is a community that builds an open seed exchange and breeding network to offer alternative solutions to the challenges of agriculture. Based on collective intelligence, open knowledge, agreements and solidarity, Bioleft develop social and technological innovations that allow the exchange of information. It links local and scientific knowledge to enhance the role of farmers in seed conservation and breeding. In this way it generates a greater availability of biodiverse and resilient seeds, considered as a commons.

Seeds are the central input of agriculture, the basis of food. Each one saves the information to create others; for millennia, farmers have improved them by crossbreeding and selection. But the ability to patent genetic sequences -and, in some countries, entire seed varieties- restricted this free flow of knowledge.

Today just six companies control more than 60% of the world’s seed production. This concentration threatens biodiversity and undermines food and technological sovereignty. In Argentina and other countries in the region, patents, for now, are only used in some crops with genetic modification; but this can change. That is why an alternative is necessary that protects the genetic material of the seeds from future restrictions and guarantees their continuous circulation: open seeds.

To do so, Bioleft designed three tools:

Legallicenses to transfer seeds that remain open for research, development and registration of new varieties. It includes a viral clause: improvements derived from Bioleft material will also be Bioleft, that is, open.

Technological: a web platform to record and map the varieties of seeds that are exchanged, the exchanges, and the continuous improvements. Participatory Plant Breeding projects are supported there and a living seed bank and a network of experimental fields potentially much broader than any other is generated.

Methodological: Bioleft is co-designed through participatory and horizontal processes and methodologies, enriched by a great diversity of participants.

Bioleft seeks to promote exchange and democratize access to knowledge, help make more and better varieties of seeds available, support more sustainable types of agriculture, and promote food and technological sovereignty.

For more information, visit the Bioleft website.

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