briansuda / Brian Suda

The audio home of Brian Suda, a master informatician living in Iceland.

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  1. Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

    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.

    At an event on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including carrots, kale, broccoli and quinoa. Anyone receiving the seeds must pledge not to restrict their use by means of patents, licenses or any other kind of intellectual property. In fact, any future plant that’s derived from these open source seeds also has to remain freely available as well.

    Irwin Goldman, a vegetable breeder at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, helped organize the campaign. It’s an attempt to restore the practice of open sharing that was the rule among plant breeders when he entered the profession more than 20 years ago.

    "If other breeders asked for our materials, we would send them a packet of seed, and they would do the same for us," he says. "That was a wonderful way to work, and that way of working is no longer with us."

    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. When Goldwin creates a new variety of onions, carrots or table beets, a technology-transfer arm of the university licenses it to seed companies.

    This brings in money that helps pay for Goldman’s work, but he still doesn’t like the consequences of restricting access to plant genes — what he calls germplasm. "If we don’t share germplasm and freely exchange it, then we will limit our ability to improve the crop," he says.

    Sociologist Jack Kloppenburg, also at the University of Wisconsin, has been campaigning against seed patents for 30 years. His reasons go beyond Goldman’s.

    He says turning seeds into private property has contributed to the rise of big seed companies that in turn promote ever-bigger, more specialized farms. "The problem is concentration, and the narrow set of uses to which the technology and the breeding are being put," he says.

    Kloppenburg says one important goal for this initiative is simply to get people thinking and talking about how seeds are controlled. "It’s to open people’s minds," he says. "It’s kind of a biological meme, you might say: Free seed! Seed that can be used by anyone!"

    The practical impact of the Open Source Seed Initiative on farmers and gardeners, however, may be limited. Even though anyone can use such seed, most people probably won’t be able to find it.

    The companies that dominate the seed business probably will keep selling their own proprietary varieties or hybrids. There’s more money to be made with those seeds.

    Most commercial vegetable seeds are hybrids, which come with a kind of built-in security lock; if you replant seed from a hybrid, you won’t get exactly the same kind of plant. (For this reason, some seed companies don’t bother getting patents on their hybrids.)

    John Shoenecker, director of intellectual property for the seed company HM Clause and the incoming president of the American Seed Trade Association, says his company may avoid using open source seed to breed new commercial varieties "because then we’d … have limited potential to recoup the investment." That’s because the offspring of open source seeds would have to be shared as well, and any other seed company could immediately sell the same variety.

    The initiative is probably more significant for plant breeders, especially at universities. Goldman says he expects many plant breeders at universities to join the open source effort.

    Meanwhile, two small seed companies that specialize in selling to organic farmers — High Mowing Organic Seeds in Hardwick, Vt., and Wild Garden Seed in Philomath, Ore., are adding some open source seeds to their catalogs this year.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 17 hours ago

  2. Arranged Marriage and Micropolis

    Arun Venugopal, reporter and the creator of Micropolis—WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that …

    —Huffduffed by briansuda one week ago

  3. Jeremy Rifkin on ‘The Internet of Things’: Forum | KQED Public Media for Northern CA

    From a washing machine that emails you when your clothes are done to smart door locks and Wi-Fi enabled dog collars that can track down a lost pet, Internet-connected objects and devices are on the rise. Author Jeremy Rifkin says that this phenomenon, known as ‘The Internet of things’ has the potential to radically transform the global economy. Rifkin joins us to discuss his latest book, ‘The Zero Marginal Cost Society.’

    —Huffduffed by briansuda one week ago

  4. Seth Godin — The Art of Noticing, and Then Creating | On Being

    The idea that today’s population are simply masses afraid of the uncertainty of the future given the change from an industrial economy to a technology economy has no basis in fact and is, frankly, insulting.

    There is no doubt that the freedom for such things as creativity and art has expanded as has the ability to reach inside all cultures.

    This is a good thing.

    That is not to what Krista seems to be guiding us in this ‘fear of change’ dialog.

    People across the Western world are fearful because of the loss of democracy and the turn of free and democratic institutions into autocratic and criminal ones.

    We watch as tens of trillions of dollars in public wealth is moved from the lower/middle classes to the top all by corporate fraud with a complete suspension of Rule of Law in Western nations.

    Security is the growth industry as jobs in national security, Homeland security, building security, the military and police are the predominate job markets now.

    This is not a good thing, it is bad.

    We watch as diversified and competitive markets are drying and fixed by the ownership of all business activity in America by a handful of mega-corporations.

    This is not evolution and it is not something to relax and accept… is something for which to be fearful and to revolt.

    Even as I acknowledge the benefits of internet as regards culture and creativity the predominate issue for all people is the Big Brother nature of the web and the fact that all of it is owned by people who can now simply legislate the ability to have it all shut down…..remember, all of our public modes of communication are being dismantled so communication that is centralized like this is easily cut off as we saw with the uprisings last Spring.

    The US quickly passed laws allowing this complete shutdown as it made domestic detention for ‘terrorism’ legal as well.

    This is of course not evolution it is devolution.

    We are seeing a wealth inequity equal to the Renaissance and the same social structuring taking place…..goodbye Enlightment these leaders say as democracy disappears and poverty increases all

    by way of massive criminal activity.

    These are the morals, ethics, and values the people see today and are never spoken of on Krista’s program as she works to obscure the seriousness of the times!!

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 2 weeks ago

  5. So You Think You’re Smarter Than A CIA Agent : Parallels : NPR

    When 3,000 average citizens were asked to forecast global events, some consistently made predictions that turned out to be more accurate than those made with classified intelligence.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 2 weeks ago

  6. Applying Jobs-to-Be-Done to User Onboarding, with Ryan Singer!

    I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Ryan Singer of 37signals to discuss how the Jobs-to-Be-Done concept can help your customers and business succeed, especially during the user onboarding process.

    It was one of my favorite conversations in quite a while, and fortunately he was gracious enough to let me share it with you here - enjoy!

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 2 weeks ago

  7. Here’s how a kid from Long Island became a king of Japanese ramen | Public Radio International

    Living in Japan, Ivan Orkin started eating ramen — lots of it. But when he moved back to New York in the 90s, he says, "I just yearned for ramen. It just became this crazy thing where I was jonesing for ramen all the time." So when he returned to Japan, he opened a ramen joint — and impressed a Japanese food critic.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 3 weeks ago

  8. Episode 55: Little Boxes

    This week we talk about patterns in web design and how to prevent our work from getting stagnate.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 3 weeks ago

  9. Seth Godin’s Startup School #1: Freelancer or Entrepreneur?

    Welcome to the first episode of Seth Godin’s Startup School. Join best-selling author Seth Godin as he provides business advice for entrepreneurs and freelancers from this rare workshop. During this week’s episode Seth discusses creating a monopoly,…

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 3 weeks ago

  10. Google’s Flu Tracker Suffers From Sniffles : Shots - Health News : NPR

    It sounds like a good idea: anticipating flu’s spread by monitoring a region’s online searches. But sometimes a sneeze is just a cold.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda one month ago

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