A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds.
They're releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new "open source pledge" that's intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.
It's inspired by the example of open source software, which is freely available for anyone to use but cannot legally be converted into anyone's proprietary product.
These days, seeds are intellectual property. Some are patented as inventions. You need permission from the patent holder to use them, and you're not supposed to harvest seeds for replanting the next year.
Even university breeders operate under these rules.