“Farmers’ rights advocates have the potential to evolve into what the open source software movement has become, i.e., a commons-based peer-production network that facilitates the sharing of plant genetic information and biotechnological tools.
One of the most active of these groups is the Philippines-based MASIPAG, an organization that brings together farmers, scientists, and NGOs to engage in agricultural research.
For software read seed. Some farmers are seed “hackers.” Although their source code—the DNA coding—is closed to them, nature itself or human intervention generates new “hacks” by crosses and mutation, and farmers select hacks that they judge beneficial.
The tantalising prospect opens up that [participatory plant breeding] might be able to capture the power of the “bazaar” development model in the same way that the open-source software movement has. . . .
If [participatory plant breeding] can harness the creativity of farmer “hackers,” wouldn’t this be a better and safer way of trying to double rice production in the next twenty years than relying on Big Science to pull off a second Green Revolution?