Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) advances the ethical development and stewardship of seed. We believe seed is part of our common cultural heritage – a living, natural resource that demands careful management to meet food needs now and into the future. We accomplish our mission through research, education, and advocacy.
The seed industry has quickly consolidated. Intellectual property practices (e.g., patents on seed) stand out as the leading cause, where much of our commercial seed is now owned and managed in the hands of a few transnational firms. This control has stifled innovation in plant breeding, and creates barriers to improving the availability, quality, and integrity of organic seed.
OSA works to address consolidation through regional seed networks that result in transformative change at the national level. Our collaborative research emphasizes diversity, ecology, and shared benefits. Our education builds the base of knowledge necessary for stewarding seed and enhancing diversity through on-farm innovation. And our advocacy promotes the benefits of organic seed while simultaneously confronting threats.
OSA grew out of Abundant Life Seed Foundation, a non-profit seed business. In 2003, a tragic fire resulted in the loss of Abundant Life Seed Foundation’s seed collection. At that time, the board of directors launched OSA as a separate non-profit organization to support the growing organic seed movement. The Abundant Life Seed catalog and business was sold.
Today, OSA has a 13-year track record that establishes itself as the leading organic seed institution in the U.S. Each year we educate thousands of farmers and other agricultural community members, conduct professional organic plant breeding and seed production research, and advocate for national policies that strengthen organic seed systems.
Be sure to read our latest State of Organic Seed report (released June 2016). The report is part of an ongoing project to monitor the status of organic seed and provides a roadmap for increasing the diversity, quality, and integrity of organic seed available to US farmers.
Listen to a radio interview with OSA staff (October 22, 2013)
The Safe Seed Pledge
Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners, and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families, or kingdoms poses great biological risks, as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems, and ultimately healthy people and communities.
For background on the pledge, click here.
“We know system diversity is one of the foundation stones to successful organic production and we have seen a demonstrated commitment from OSA to build that component of diversity relating to seed. I want to ensure my dollars to on-the-ground projects, a place where an emphasis to make an enduring difference is part of the mandate and where my dollars can be leveraged to build a stronger, healthier food system around the world.”