New Initiative Aims to Make Seeds Free for All

June 15, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. patented [PAH-ten-td] (adj.) – referring to a legal right that protects something, usually an invention, from being stolen
Example: The programmer sold his patented software to a big company.

2. unduly [uhn-DOO-lee, -DYOO-] (adv.) – excessively, overly
Example: The president is unduly worried about the outcome of the survey.

3. packet [PAK-it] (n.) – a small package or envelope that contains little things
Example: Please give me two packets of sugar.

4. genetically modified  [juh-NET-ik- ally MOD-uh-fahyd] (adj.) – referring to genes of plants and animals that have been altered for a particular use
Example: Most fruits and vegetables are genetically modified for mass production.

5. withstand [with-STAND, with-] (v.) – to be strong enough to avoid being destroyed
Example: Bamboo trees can withstand strong winds.


Read the text below.
The University of Wisconsin has created a new movement to ensure that seeds will be equally available for everyone.

For a long time, most farmers have used patented and legally protected seeds in planting crops. This, in a way, limits the freedom of farmers to improve their crops and have made them dependent on their suppliers.

With the establishment of a new movement called Open Source Seeds Initiative (OSSI), unduly restricted access to seeds will no longer happen.

OSSI is dedicated to keeping access to varieties of seeds free for all. During its launch, the organization distributed packets of 29 varieties of vegetables. Printed on the packet was a pledge stating that the seeds are not legally protected, so anyone can freely use them. To mark this event, two carrot varieties were named Sovereign and Oranje [oh-RAN-yuh].

Most seeds sold by giant companies are usually genetically modified to withstand pests and other diseases. Under the intellectual property law, farmers cannot share and save these seeds for future use. But with open source seeds, farmers can freely share, save, and improve seeds without any fear of lawsuits.

Irwin Goldman, one of the coordinators of OSSI, said that vegetables are part of people’s culture and that people should benefit from these seeds for future use.  Although the movement has just started, it aims to make most seeds freely available in the future and encourage small-scale growers to improve them. 

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, how can this movement benefit farmers in general?
·         How can this movement affect giant companies in the farming industry?

Discussion B

·         What crops do you think are significant to your country’s culture?
·         Is it important to make these crops available for the future generation? Why or why not?

June 15, 2014