Over the past several decades, there has been a trend toward increasingly restrictive intellectual property rights (IPR) over plant germplasm including contracts, material transfer agreements (MTA), “bag tag” licenses, plant variety protection (PVP) certificates, and utility patents. This has limited the “freedom to operate” for plant breeders wanting to use a diverse array of germplasm in their breeding programs and has complicated the exchange of plant germplasm around the world (Luby et al., 2015). The goal of many plant breeding programs is to develop cultivars or inbred lines that are genetically stable and homogenous. The goal of breeding the eight populations released here was the opposite: take commercially available cultivars that had freedom to operate for breeding and create diverse carrot populations based on market class and root color. These composite populations are meant to represent some of the diversity present in commercially available carrot germplasm that is available to use in breeding. The populations are the Wisconsin Open Source Composite (WI-OSC) collection: ‘WI-OSC Nantes’, ‘WI-OSC Danvers’, ‘WI-OSC Chantenay’, ‘WI-OSC Ball’, ‘WI-OSC Yellow’, ‘WI-OSC White’, ‘WI-OSC Red’, and ‘WI-OSC Purple’.
To ensure that the diversity present in these populations will remain available for use in breeding and seed production into the future, the WI-OSC populations are being released under the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) Pledge, a mechanism developed by OSSI (contact at: www.osseeds.org) in 2014 to enhance plant breeders’ freedom to operate and farmers’ and gardeners’ ability to save and share seed. The OSSI Pledge states: “You have the freedom to use these OSSI-Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents, or other means, and to include this pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives (www.osseeds.org).” This means that these populations will serve as reservoirs of carrot diversity that will remain freely available for anyone to use, for whatever purpose, with the condition that when derivatives are created using any of these populations, they will also remain available for others to use and will not be use restricted by IPR. Instead of making germplasm available through a public commons, where resources can be used and appropriated by IPR, the OSSI Pledge creates a “protected commons” around germplasm, ensuring that it remains available to use into the future (Luby et al., 2015).
Luby, C.H., Kloppenburg, J., Michaels, T.M. & Goldman, I.L. 2015 Enhancing freedom to operate for plant breeders and farmers through open source plant breeding Crop Sci. 55 3