Author Topic: Plant breeders without borders  (Read 846 times)

William S.

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #15 on: 2019-02-26, 07:35:28 PM »
What is the Nagoya protocol? I say as I hit the Google button.

Google preview window second result down:

"The CBD's 10th Conference of the Parties, in Nagoya 2010 adopted an international legally binding protocol on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing—the Nagoya Protocol. ... The same applies to genetic resources that are held by indigenous and local communities, in accordance with domestic legislation."
« Last Edit: 2019-02-26, 07:38:26 PM by William S. »
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A

bill

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #16 on: 2019-02-27, 12:43:54 AM »
I think it is vague because the model allows for lots of options.  If the farmer-breeder chooses to use materials that come with an MTA (which would be common if using improved materials from a gene bank) then the MTA might transmit to the progeny.  If they choose to work with OSSI pledged varieties, then that would.

If the farmer-breeder owns the project, then the decision about licensing the final variety is up to them.  They could apply for any sort of IP restriction that is not prohibited by the IP restrictions on the starting materials.

That's how I read it anyway.

Ocimum

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #17 on: 2019-02-27, 02:45:57 AM »
If I may clarify the question by adding the small drawing.

A variety cannot be owned by someone, and be free open access at the same time.
« Last Edit: 2019-02-28, 05:20:10 AM by Ocimum »

jrkloppe

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #18 on: 2019-02-27, 01:17:18 PM »
Hello friends. I’ve been asked to comment on this thread since I have been paying attention to developments in plant breeding and the seed industry for some 30 years now. For full disclosure, I am a founder and current board member of OSSI.

“Plant Breeders Without Borders” is an appealing phrase and the organization’s website and declarations purport it to be idealistic and well-meaning. I suspect that Anthony Leddin is himself idealistic and well-meaning. But the sponsors of PBWOB are something else. I need not belabor for all of you the way in which Bayer/Monsanto has for decades been a principal proponent of the privatization of seed and the displacement of public breeding. The International Seed Federation is simply the global trade organization for seed companies. It has also been a proponent and facilitator and lobbier for intellectual property rights and their “harmonization” (read, imposition) across the world. The consistent positions of both Bayer and the ISF are that breeding is best done by professional plant scientists, not farmers; that farmers participate in breeding as consumers by purchasing commercial seed; that public breeders should not compete with private breeders; and that farmer activities that undermine incentives for seed companies should be disallowed. The support of Bayer/ISF for PBWOB is, for me, nothing more than “greenwashing,” Look, they have to at least pretend that they have some concern for small farmers and orphan crops.

If Bayer/ISF really wanted to do something useful for small farmers and underutilized crops, they might put some real $ into supporting the national agricultural research systems of the Global South (ah, but those compete with them, don’t they?). They might stop pushing IPRs everywhere (ah, but they really need those IPRs to support their own work and expand their markets, don’t they?). They might push for more “participatory research” with farmers (ah, but they already pushed to have all of that eliminated in the CGIAR system, didn’t’ they?). And why not lay those $ on the NGOs that are ALREADY working to train farmers rather than create a new one (maybe for them the role of PBWOB is not really to train famers, but to enable them to say they are no the big, bad bullies they are so often made out to be (that’s what I mean  by “greenwashing”). So they toss a little (a very little, I suspect, but way more than all of you independent plant breeders have ever seen) $ onto the PBWOB. Which then comes to YOU and asks YOU to do your work for them for FREE. 

And what might happen to any varieties that emerge from the PBWOB activity? Several commenters have asked about Nagoya. Yes. The Nagoya Protocol is a legally binding framework that provides requirements for “access and benefit sharing,” “prior and informed consent,” and “mutually agreed terms” for the use of genetic resources under the Convention on Biodiversity (except for the USA, which has not ratified either the CBD or Nagoya). Anthony Leddin completely sidesteps your questions and concerns. Probably because he doesn’t know himself how Nagoya affects the proposed work of the PBWOB. I don’t know either. Guess what – no one knows. Nagoya is an appalling bureaucratization of genetic resource exchange that is the product of decades of struggle in international institutions. Better check it out, because it will ultimately affect all plant breeding.  But right now, it is not at all clear how it works.

Should you get involved with PBWOB? Let me know what you think?

bill

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #19 on: 2019-02-27, 03:05:38 PM »
That's an interesting perspective, Jack.  I will need to think about it more.  Should we refuse to take funds from companies that work at cross-purposes if it comes with no strings attached?  If Anthony can use that money to help improve the world in some way, shouldn't he do it?  Does the marketing benefit to the sponsor outweigh the good that PBWB could do with it?  If the alternative is to do nothing because any available source of money is contaminated, is that a net good?

Nagoya is a bureaucratic nightmare that should be ignored by everyone.

jrkloppe

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #20 on: 2019-02-27, 05:01:28 PM »
OK, I’ll bite.

Yes, it is enough for me to know that Bayer and the FIS are supporting it. That is sufficient for me to tell them to take a hike no matter how much they are offering. If you want to make real change, you got to draw a line somewhere. Bayer and FIS are the OPPOSITION – they are working against what I hope most of the people on this board are trying to do. Working with them will ultimately advance THEIR goals, not ours.

OK, that’s not enough. Here are two more reasons that I think PBWOB is not the way to go.

First, its structure reproduces the “white savior,” “teach a man to fish…,” technocratic, presumptuous, sanctimonious, myopic, culturally obtuse, politically clueless approach that has been the hallmark of to foreign “aid” and “development” since way before I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana 40 years ago. Having allowed our own governments of the North to undermine and debilitate national research programs and having allowed transnational corporations and the market to marginalize, displace and deskill farmers, we suddenly find that they “need” us. So PBWOB recruits volunteers to helicopter in for brief initiatives that have no legs because they are episodic and context-less and aren’t rooted in the communities themselves. PBWOB wants you to volunteer? For what? For how long? What do you know about Ethiopia?  We’ve done this before, again and again and again.

Second, there is an alternative. We don’t have to do nothing. But we do need to break free from the way it’s been done – and is still being done – by USAID and the World Bank and the GFAR and the CGIAR and the Gates Foundation and Bayer. If you want to help, go there and help. Offer your skills to the indigenous and local organizations that are ALRFEADY there and are ALREADY working to do support community seed banks and farmer breeders and seed sovereignty and food sovereignty. Just google organizations like SEARICE, check out the magazine Farming Matters. Why give yourself to the people who are in your face just because they have $ from Bayer and so have the resources and the cultural capital to get in your face? The alternatives are THERE if we look for them.

bill

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #21 on: 2019-02-27, 06:20:54 PM »
First, its structure reproduces the “white savior,” “teach a man to fish…,” technocratic, presumptuous, sanctimonious, myopic, culturally obtuse, politically clueless approach that has been the hallmark of to foreign “aid” and “development” since way before I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana 40 years ago. Having allowed our own governments of the North to undermine and debilitate national research programs and having allowed transnational corporations and the market to marginalize, displace and deskill farmers, we suddenly find that they “need” us. So PBWOB recruits volunteers to helicopter in for brief initiatives that have no legs because they are episodic and context-less and aren’t rooted in the communities themselves. PBWOB wants you to volunteer? For what? For how long? What do you know about Ethiopia?  We’ve done this before, again and again and again.

I have to admit that this was my first thought.  But, I figure this is one of those questions that will be answered in practice.  Is there demand for this sort of thing?  I have no idea.  If there is no demand, presumably it won't continue.  I guess Anthony sees some demand or he wouldn't have set this up.  Is PBWB trying to discover demand or responding to it?

Carol Deppe

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #22 on: 2019-02-27, 07:24:14 PM »
That's an interesting perspective, Jack.  I will need to think about it more.  Should we refuse to take funds from companies that work at cross-purposes if it comes with no strings attached? 
This is not "no strings attached". We're told the finished varieties must be put in a germplasm repository, with international organizations that want to make all seeds proprietary involved. We're also told that the finished varieties will be "owned" by the farmers. Reading between the lines and extrapolating, I infer the varieties will be owned by the farmers but available to all, but requiring an MTA and royalty payments for all uses. That is, the varieties will be fully proprietary.  They will help Bayer/Monsanto and their ilk by spreading the principle  that all seed should  be proprietary and by helping to privatize the germplasm--even the germplasm of the minor crops of peasants in third world countries. If this isn't the case, let's see the exact document committing all the organizations involved to something otherwise.



Carol Deppe

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #23 on: 2019-02-27, 07:32:58 PM »
Yes, it is enough for me to know that Bayer and the FIS are supporting it. That is sufficient for me to tell them to take a hike
It's enough for me too.
Thanks for your insights on this, Jack.

Nicollas

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #24 on: 2019-02-28, 05:06:47 AM »
If I may clarify the question by adding the small drawing.

A variety cannot be owned by someone, and be free access at the same time.

Based on Open Source software, in the contrary it is the ownership you have on some code that allows you to license it as opensource and grant some free rights on it. That's what disturbs me about OSSI, that somehow you have to take ownership on some genetic material to license it to free its (re)use and preventing ownership down the line that could lock some use.

Ocimum

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #25 on: 2019-02-28, 05:27:02 AM »
Based on Open Source software, in the contrary it is the ownership you have on some code that allows you to license it as opensource and grant some free rights on it. ...
Nicollas: thanks for pointing it out. I changed the post by replacing "free" by "open" access. Open access and open source are not the same.

... That's what disturbs me about OSSI, that somehow you have to take ownership on some genetic material to license it to free its (re)use and preventing ownership down the line that could lock some use.

I think it disturbs many people, especially in non-US, non EU areas.


Carol Deppe

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #26 on: 2019-02-28, 05:58:58 AM »
Based on Open Source software, in the contrary it is the ownership you have on some code that allows you to license it as opensource and grant some free rights on it. That's what disturbs me about OSSI, that somehow you have to take ownership on some genetic material to license it to free its (re)use and preventing ownership down the line that could lock some use.
This is the reason we allow only the breeder of a variety to OSSI-Pledge it. When I have bred a variety I DO own the variety. After I OSSI-Pledge it, I don't own it any more. OSSI-Pledged varieties and their derivatives cannot be owned or restricted or controlled by anyone, not even their breeders. That's how I personally look at it.

In actuality, the OSSI Pledge is legally a bag-tag agreement--the  bag-tag agreement to end all bag-tag agreements. And bag-tag agreements are legal and enforcible under contract law. And such bag-tag agreements don't require you to own the seed to be legal. So even if your view is that not even the breeder of a variety ever owns it, not even transiently before the variety is released, the Pledge is still valid.

Ocimum

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #27 on: 2019-02-28, 07:00:28 AM »
...
In actuality, the OSSI Pledge is legally a bag-tag agreement--the  bag-tag agreement to end all bag-tag agreements. And bag-tag agreements are legal and enforcible under contract law.
...

Actually it does not end all agreements, just makes other types impossible. No bag-tag agreements at all would be open access. Open access and open source are completely different, as open source can be considered a "common" as Elinor Ostrom described a lot, and open access can be transformed into patents etc.

Carol Deppe

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #28 on: 2019-02-28, 09:51:09 AM »
OSSI is open source, not open access. In the seed context, open access is called "public domain". It is an unprotected commons. If you release a real winner as a public domain variety, Monsterco can slap their own bag-tag on your variety, give it a name of their own to imply they bred it, and distribute it far and wide. Their bag-tag would require all others to pay Monsterco to use or breed from your variety. Monsterco would have full access to exploit all your plant breeding work. You would have no ability to use and build on their plant breeding work, since theirs is proprietary. This means there is a one-way flow of genes and varieties from the public domains  commons to the proprietary. Historically, unprotected commons for valuable accessible resources don't work. Once the laws were changed to allow proprietary seeds, the public domain seed commons was doomed. Already university breeders are finding themselves restricted by being unable to use some of the breeding material they need.

Commons do not work when some participants can take as much as they want and put nothing back. Garrett Hardin's famous article (Science 1968) was on the "Tragedy of the Commons", and concluded all commons are basically doomed. But actually, only unprotected commons are doomed. Humans often have commons that last. But these are protected commons.

OSSI is a protected commons. It's open only to those who are also willing to share.

Anthony.leddin

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Re: Plant breeders without borders
« Reply #29 on: 2019-03-02, 03:03:03 PM »
Sorry could you be more specific where your concerns are. Is it with the person that is supplying the germplasm or is it the user of the germplasm. That will help me with the answer thanks Anthony.