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Messages - Carol Deppe

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Community & Forum Building / Re: OSSI website
« on: Yesterday at 05:19:46 PM »
An announcement about the forum went out today to OSSI's email list.

Plant Breeding / Re: legal status of many varieties investigated
« on: 2019-01-15, 02:40:16 PM »
Being from Europe, I wonder about the legality and enforcability of these material transfer agreements here.
There is a breeder's derogation (Züchterprivileg) which allows breeders to use PVP protected varieties to breed new ones.

Material transfer agreements are contracts, and are enforceable as contract law.

In USA, it's legal to breed from PVPed varieties with three exceptions. First, you cant use a PVP to produce an F1 hybrid for sale as a hybrid without permission. Second, you cant legally develop something by multiple rounds of recurrent backcrossing to the PVP variety without permission. It isnt spelled out how many recurrent backcrosses are permitted before the derivative is considered a violation. Third, a sport may or may not also be covered by the original PVP. If it is, if you breed from the sport, the result could still be owned by the holder of the PVP on the original variety.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Welcome and Introduce Yourself!
« on: 2019-01-15, 02:11:54 PM »
Hi Carol! I'm very new to plant breeding and I'm getting a headache reading all the legal ramifications. If I want to breed for OSSI, do I need to trace the legal status of each of the parent plants?

I got my first packet of luffa from Amazon and it was shipped from China. There isn't any mention of patents or anything like that (it's in Chinese but I read Chinese). I also have a packet of seed that I bought in Japan (which was produced in China) plus a packet from Botanical Interest.

Am I in the clear to use these seeds to breed for OSSI?

The Designation Agreement you sign as part of the application to Pledge a variety includes language to the effect that none of the germplasm used has any patents or restrictions on it that would preclude Pledging it to the best of your knowledge.

Actually, it can be impossible to tell if something is patented. Even an expensive professional patent search wouldn't tell us for sure, because seed companies often use only in-house breeding line numbers in their patents, not the names they use in selling the varieties. This ought to be illegal, because in theory you reveal the secret of the invention in exchange for the legal protection of the patent. And by identifying the variety only by meaningless numbers instead of the public names, the company gets the legal protection without revealing the secret. It's a practice I hope OSSI will be able to challenge some day.

Meanwhile, we do the best we can. As a breeder, I figure if they didnt tell me it was patented or restricted, I'll assume it isn't. This means I might accidently develop a variety from patented germplasm and Pledge it, and the variety might get a cease and desist order from someone. In which case its ossi status would have to be annulled. This hasnt happened so far.

We did have a breeder try to Pledge a variety that included unreleased germplasm from a university program that was used without permission. I checked things out with the university breeder, and OSSI did not accept the variety.

PVP varieties are legal to breed from in most cases. There are exceptions.

Community & Forum Building / Re: Welcome and Introduce Yourself!
« on: 2019-01-15, 10:13:25 AM »
Hello! I'm Chiu-Ki Chan and I live 30 miles north of Denver, Colorado.

I am thinking of trying luffa as my first breeding project since it operates like a zucchini (male and female easy-to-seal flowers) so it is easy to control the pollination. I love eating luffas and I want to adapt them to Colorado climate.
Hello Chiu-Ki. I'm the cheerfully greedy Chair of the OSSI Variety Review Committee. OSSI doesn't have any luffas....  ;)

Plant Breeding / Re: legal status of many varieties investigated
« on: 2019-01-14, 11:29:46 PM »
Curious if we might soon get OSSI to the point where many seed catalogues can be filled entirely with OSSI pledged varieties. Kind of like Carol's catalogue!

That's the aim. We are a ways off. OSSI has more than 400 Pledged varieties now. A person could do very well growing or selling only OSSI-Pledged tomatoes, lettuce, kale, mustard, sweet corn, flint and flour corns, beans, squash, orach, quinoa, peppers. But there is a whole lot we need. In addition, because of the strong concentration of OSSI-associated breeders in the NW, we have much more that is optimized for the NW than for elsewhere. We need more OSSI-associated breeders everywhere else, especially the SE, the Midwest, Canada, and Australia.

We don't have a single OSSI-Pledged fruit or nut tree or bush at all. Not one. We also need fruit tree rootstock varieties. Those are pretty much all coming out patented these days. 

Plant Breeding / Re: legal status of many varieties investigated
« on: 2019-01-14, 08:07:52 PM »

I saw this didn't really read it, it seems to be a suspicious of OSSI anti OSSI rant blog post. Like maybe it's all a scheme to keep us backyard breeders poor and unfunded?
Very long rant. Very garbled and confused. And anonymous. I'm not going to bother responding. There are legitimate reasons why someone might prefer a public domain model, however. A reasonable case can be made for it and against OSSI. But this isnt that reasonable case.

I will respond to two things. The author says lettuce is self pollinating. This factual error means he/she doesnt understand the nature of the gene pool lettuce mixes from Wild Garden and Adaptive. And of course, lettuce, like most self pollinators, is only mostly self pollinating. It outcrosses enough so you can get any cross you want just by interplanting the varieties. And if two different seed companies interplant their own choice of lettuce varieties and grow and select the result for a number of years, they will end up with two different gene pool mixes, each of which can be Pledged.

A second issue. Sometimes gene pool mixes may include pure varieties. So Wild Garden sells many gene pool mixes that include both pure Pledged and unpledged varieties as well as segregating crosses and other OSSI-Pledged stuff. So these mixtures include both genetic and physical mixtures of seed. Where a physical mixture includes any OSSI-Pledged material, it's necessary to sell the mix as Pledged to prevent Pledged material from being transmitted without the Pledge. It's not a perfect solution, just the best we can do.

Plant Breeding / Re: legal status of many varieties investigated
« on: 2019-01-14, 07:31:19 PM »
By the way, generally breeders who OSSI-Pledge finished varieties are finding it much easier to get their varieties introduced. There are dozens of OSSI Partner seed companies that participate enthusiastically and are eager to trial and carry more OSSI-Pledged varieties. Many of these companies even have special sections listing their OSSI varieties. I think any good new finished OSSI variety these days has a good chance of being taken seriously and trialled by multiple seed companies immediately, even if presented by a newcomer with his or her first variety. Used to be, seed companies often ignored freelance newcomers for years, decades even. Not any more.

Plant Breeding / Re: legal status of many varieties investigated
« on: 2019-01-14, 07:10:41 PM »
Right. The OSSI Pledge is itself a bag-tag agreement. It's no restriction if you intend not to restrict. For those who want to restrict, it's the worse restriction you could have. For example, if I patented one of my varieties, a Gene Giant would normally be able to buy it or license it to develop patentable derivatives. But with an OSSI-Pledged variety, not even the breeder has the right to allow patenting of derivatives. So if your purpose is to develop proprietary varieties, OSSI varieties don't work. In a chapter in a recent issue of Plant Breeding Reviews on corn breeding in Monsanto, in fact, the authors fumed that open source germplasm was "too infectious to touch". "Right!" I say. "They get it!" OSSI is a protected commons. They are used to being able to take from the commons to create proprietary varieties and not give anything back to the commons. A one way stream. Commons dont last when the users have no rules to prevent their being despoiled. Only protected commons last. OSSI sets up a protected commons. The cost is a little bit of paperwork and tracking.

So far, no university breeder has used any OSSI germplasm in their breeding program and developed finished varieties. No surprise, since universities expect their breeders to develop varieties they can license. However, three university people at three different universities are breeding with some of my varieties. However, this will undoubtedly always be the exception rather than the rule, given the commitment of universities to the proprietary model. And note that university breeders dont use the germplasm of other university breeders either. To use it would require cutting in the other u for a share of the royalties. And nobody wants to spend years developing something and have that situation.

Plant Breeding / legal status of many varieties investigated
« on: 2019-01-14, 01:13:25 PM »
It is increasingly the case that many retail seed companies are signing licenses and bag-tag agreements THAT SIGN AWAY THEIR CUSTOMER'S SEED RIGHTS without telling the customers. This potential loss in seed rights actually affects far more varieties than those that have PVPs or patents. It can even affect op and heirloom varieties that the wholesale supplier had nothing to do with developing. So, for example, if you buy Chiogga beet, an heirloom, the retail seed company may have signed a license with their supplier that no seed saving or breeding is allowed with the seed. It is a new mode and level of seizing of our rights that is for the moment being largely kept secret from retail seed customers. CR Lawn, founder and leader of Fedco up until 2018, became aware of the problem. His paper outlining the problem, CR’s article “SEED SOVEREIGNTY: Taking Back the Seed Commons” is in the 2019 Jan/Seed issue of Acres/USA. It’s on newsstands now.
This article describes the problem in detail. In addition, there are lists in the back that list all the wholesale suppliers Fedco uses and what restrictions they are putting on their seed. In addition, there is also a list of all varieties Fedco carried as of 2017 that have ip of any sort on them, including these invisible licenses and bag tags Fedco signs, the supplier, and the exact restrictions. CR put this info in the variety descriptions for the 2017 Fedco catalog, but he retired in spring of 2018, and those at Fedco dropped the info out of the descriptions, restoring the invisible seizing of seed rights that they felt uncomfortable pointing out. (No no other seed companies are pointing out these invisible restrictions. An nearly all large retail seed companies use these big suppliers and are accepting such licenses and bagtags.)

If you get the Acres/USA Jan issue, you will have a list of all restrictions on all Fedco varieties that had restrictions, and the exact rights restricted for each. In addition, if you have the 2017 Fedco catalog, you have an additional list of many hundreds of varieties that have no restrictions, since they weren't on the restricted list. (The same doesn't apply to later catalogs, since Fedco's new listings would not have been investigated by CR.)

Here's a specific example. Let's suppose that you bought Chiogga beet, an heirloom variety, from Fedco or someone else. Does it have IP on it? So, looking it up in CR's article, I find that Fedco bought it from Sakata, and that the seed came with a bag-tag agreement that limits the user to growing a single crop only. No seed saving or breeding is permitted. Furthermore, Sakata claims that this bag-tag binds all third party users, that is, Fedco customers.

What it amounts to is these major suppliers put the same bag-tag or licenses on all the seed they supply, whether they bred it or not. So Sakata has actually put IP on their part of the seed stream of Chiogga beet.

What about buying it from somewhere else? Well, there's actually a good chance that many/most of the other retail seed companies are also buying Chiogga from Sakata and are accepting the same bag-tag agreements. So going elsewhere for Chiogga doesn't solve the problem necessarily.

It is legal to put a bag-tag agreement on any seed you distribute. It doesn't affect seed of the variety distributed independently. Only the seed obtained with that bag-tag. So small seed companies that grow their own Chiogga from seed they got before these bag-tags would still have IP-free Chiogga. But a small seed company that bought bulk from Fedco for repacking might unknowingly be distributing restricted seed.

I personally think that the binding of third party users is not legal unless they know about it and have agreed to it. Bag-tags and licenses fall under contract law. With contract law, you aren't bound by it unless you know about it and have agreed. PVPs and patents, on the other hand, are laws, and you are bound by laws whether you know about them or not. So Sakata and others may be saying their bag-tags and licenses bind third parties, but I don't think they. However, this would not necessarily do you a lot of good if Sakata sued you. There is the tendency with the guys with the most money and biggest legal department to win.

I think the biggest danger is that these restrictions are secret. Seed companies are not telling us they are signing stuff that say that the varieties are one-time-use rentals instead of real sales. Right not these big suppliers are not insisting that the retail seed companies tell us about the restrictions. But if retail companies continue buying from these suppliers and accepting these terms, we can figure at some point the wholesalers will suddenly start enforcing all these restrictions. That is, after their retail seed company customers are so dependent on them that there is no other practical source for the varieties. (Even for an heirloom, it's not easy to find a supplier who supplies it in the huge amounts needed at good quality year after year.)

What I would like to see is every retail seed company doing what Fedco did in 2017--telling us exactly what rights we are and aren't buying in the description of every variety. It actually just takes a code number. And one-time paying attention to the bag-tags and licenses and identifying each variety by code.

It is my hope that if customers knew they were only buying the rental of the use of the seed for one year, they would scream loudly enough so that the retail seed company would have some incentive to negotiate those restrictions out of the stuff they sign or find different suppliers.

Plant Breeding / Re: Are Determinate Tomatoes Weaklings?
« on: 2019-01-13, 10:40:36 PM »
The big problem with determinates is they don't taste very good. This is supposedly because they don't have enough leaf mass to properly feed the fruits. The leaf to fruit ratio isnt optimal. So it's mostly people who arent very demanding with respect to tomato flavor who grow them. Or are beginners. Or are growing tomatoes in pots. Or just dont want to do the work of supporting.

I wouldnt call determinates weak necessarily. They are a smaller plant with a smaller root system that will yield only a small fraction of what an indeterminate plant will for the same cost in growing a transplant and transplanting. But determinates do take less space and arent as sprawling and unruly.

If you are short on space, consider dwarf varieties rather than determinates. Dwarves are capable of prime flavor. They are actually just indeterminates with very short internodes. The Dwarf Tomato Project folks have OSSI-Pledged and released nearly  hundred varieties. Reds, pinks, blacks, yellows, etc. See Victory Seeds for an excellent selection of dwarf varieties.

110 dwarf varieties! I wonder if any of them have late blight resistance bred in? Are they new on the OSSI list? I remember seeing just the 22 regular tomatoes.

I haven't tried any of them yet, my understanding being that they are mainly for the space limited? I'm not particularly space limited so have been growing determinates mainly because they are early. Adaptive Seeds calls Sweet Cherriette an Indeterminate Dwarf. Wonder how early they are?
Hmmm. I see the dwarf tomatoes arent found by looking under tomatoes on the ossi seed page. You have to look under breeder, The Dwarf Tomato Project. A huge flaw that makes the dwarfs invisible. I'll mention to the person handling this aspect of the website.

There were 68 dwarf varieties. We just Pledged another 25.

Note that Patrina Nuske-Small, one co-director of the project, is in Australia, so many of these varieties are also available in Australia.

Dwarfs are compact indeterminates. That is, they are compact because they have short internodes. They have a characteristic rugose leaf texture. They usually grow 3 to 4 feet high. They are usually staked. They can be any maturity from early to late, depending on variety. Craig LeHoullier is writing a whole book about them, and about the Dwarf Tomato Project. Yes, the big advantage of the dwarves is good flavor on compact plants for people with small gardens or who grow in containers. The determinates usually don't have prime flavor, apparently because the leaf to fruit ratio isnt high enough. Dwarfs can give you compact plants with true heirloom quality flavor.

The Dwarf Tomato Project got its start through gardeners interacting on a tomato forum, by the way.

A number of Ossi Partner Seed Companies carry some of these dwarves. But Victory Seeds has by far the largest collection. I believe all but 9 or so that will be introduced next year. And Victory has a whole subsection in their on line catalog just for dwarf tomatoes, so they are easy to find.

As far as I know, none of the dwarf tomatoes have any late blight resistance. So it would be very helpful if we started crossing them appropriately.

Plant Breeding / Re: Broccoli breeding advice
« on: 2019-01-09, 09:48:47 PM »
Broccoli and Gai Lohn are both Brassica oleracea. B. oleracea varieties often have an incompatibility system. You can tell whether they do by just planting a single plant in relative isolation. If it's self-incompatible, you will get little or no seed.

When that's the situation, you can make crosses by just putting pairs of plants in semiisolation. Say make a short row of gai lohn about 8 inches away from a short row of broccoli. Then cull to a good plant of each, with them being an isolated pair with branches intermingled so many bee trips are between the different varieties. You can get all crosses this way, and hundreds of pods, without doing any hand pollination. It depends upon the two chosen parent plants having different incompatibility genes. But when they are different varieties, often they do.

Somewhere in this thread, someone mentioned that we should avoid redundancy. I don't think so.

For example, let's suppose one of my favorite heirlooms is Pruden's Purple, so I cross it to Fast Lady, backcross once, then grow out about 50 offspring. Half of 'em would be pick. 1/4 of them would be heterozygous for both Ph2 and Ph3. The horrible-flavor conferring u gene would be at worse heterozygous, and invisible because recessive. There are lot's of other disease resistances that are the reason why you usually have to rotate tomatoes, a problem for people with small gardens. I might develop a variety that ends up homozygous for Ph2 and Ph3, is pink, is reasonable large and early, and tastes great. But it might well not be V or F or nemadote resistant, for example. Can't do everything.

But if you do the same cross and you might end up with something with both lb genes, something large, pink delicious, and early. But it would probably lack some of the other resistances that might be desireable. But if we crossed your line and mine, we might...then develop...he he he.

Of course, you would probably produce multiple lines, and so would I. But we would have lots more options with more lines we could share and breed further with.

Criteria for choosing an heirloom to work with? Someone has to love it enough to do the work. Or at least start and get it to the point where others can play with it.

It takes just one plant of each variety to do the first year's work. Just maybe 6 F1 plants and a couple of heirlooms to do the backcross. Then it will take more land and labor, but that's why we need to spread the idea and work around.

Something very similar was done with respect to the Dwarf Tomato Project. There are now more than 100 heirloom-quality compact tomatoes based upon the d gene instead of the sp (determinate) gene. And that taste much better than determinates. And that I feel, given time, will displace the determinate class. And they are all OSSI-Pledged. Craig LeHoullier and Patrina Nuske-Small crossed d containing material with dozens of heirlooms. Then they worked with more than 200 volunteers propagating and selecting that material out into more than 100 OSSI-Pledged dwarf varieties. See the OSSI website SEED page and look up by breeder "The Dwarf Tomato Project".

Variety selection seems key here because being able to agree on specific varieties to undergo this treatment would make it possible to crowd fund the work but also to find collaborators to supply labor and land for specific varieties. What is more, we could bring the costs per variety down potentially if we supplied labor and land. I suspect most of us have access to land and that we are all skilled labor for this sort of thing.
Naw. We don't need to agree on specific varieties. If you love a particular heirloom, get in there and start doing the crosses with it. Once one of us has material to distribute, we can start a thread on the project on this forum. And I'll certainly also distribute it through my seed company.

Part of what I love about plant breeding is being able to do exactly what I want. Create a system that deprived me of that freedom? NEVER!

Quote and link from Carol:

"believe that because of changes in late blight lines, it's going to become impossible to grow all heirloom tomatoes outdoors almost everywhere in North America within the next 5 to 10 years. None of the heirlooms have adequate defenses against late blight. There are commercial late blight resistant varieties produced by university breeders and big seed companies. But these are all in the form of hybrids, not open pollinated varieties. Worse yet, they pretty much all taste awful. They are bred to have uniform gorgeous color, which requires the u gene (uniform shoulders). The u gene actually causes sugar content and aromatics (flavor) to drop. In addition the commercial varieties usually have tough, unpalatable skins for resistance to damage in handling and shipping, and additional genes associated with slow ripening that confer longer shelf life, but also destroy flavor. That is not what most gardeners want to grow and eat.

I've begun a major project that involves crossing major genetics for late blight resistance as well as resistance to other major diseases into a large repertoire of heirloom varieties. My basic plan is to cross resistant hybrids to each of a couple dozen heirlooms, backcross once to the respective heirlooms, choose the offspring that carry an appropriate repertoire of late blight and other disease resistance genes, take those to the F2, OSSI-Pledge these lots as breeding material, then distribute that material far and wide for hundreds of gardeners and farmers and seed companies to use to select hundreds of new varieties of heirloom-quality open-pollinated OSSI-Pledged tomato varieties with late blight and other disease resistance combined with heirloom-quality flavor. I hope in this fashion that we can replace all the current heirlooms with equally delicious late blight resistant versions before the late blight situation gets so bad that our current heirlooms become ungrowable. This project is going to require major resources in land and labor. In addition, the step of "choosing the offspring that carry an appropriate repertoire of late blight and other disease resistant genes" from which to get the F2s to distribute will involve marker assisted selection. That alone will require several thousand dollars in lab fees per year for a number of years. However, the result of this project should be a new generation of heirloom-quality tomatoes that are not only resistant to late blight, but also carry the other important genes for disease resistance that most heirloom tomato varieties currently lack"

This sounds great to me then we can get the F2 populations we want from OSSI. We could also do similar work in parallel to Carol and pledge our own F2's to OSSI. It would be good not to duplicate. Carol is talking about doing about ~24 varieties, IF she can get the necessary funding. The marker assisted selection is a big funding need, I could cross my intended lines but could not do the Marker assisted selection. Would just need to freeze the F2 and wait for blight which would also preclude the back cross for better flavor retention.

I wonder if Carol would be open to working on specific varieties for people with favorites who have money but not time? Wonder what the cost per variety would be?
I'm open to suggestions. However, I plan to come here and invite wide participation as soon as I have F2s of appropriate backcrosses to distribute. I've already got the first cross of Iron Lady to 15 or 20 heirlooms.

Once we have that first batch of foundation material, it will be easier to do more. For example, if I can give you the F2 of a pink offspring that is 3/4 Pruden's purple and carries a useful repertoire of disease resistance, people can use that to cross to additional pink varieties rather than crossing them to Iron Lady or some other commercial source of resistance genes.

But nobody says you have to wait around until I have material distribute. Why not get in there and do some crosses and backcrosses etc yourself, with your favorite varieties?

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