Mardi 12 septembre 2017 (20h-22h EDT)
Accessible (juste avant la session) en streaming au lien suivant: https://cirad.ubicast.tv/lives/live
Intervenant : Eric Deibel (Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey)

The goal of the presentation is to recontextualize the proposals and existing initiatives that propose “open source seeds”. What I mean by recontextualize is simply to situate the discussions of how the language of access and openness has become a part of the international discussions over seed and plant materials at the intersection of the life sciences and informatics. My argument is by no means that either seeds or genes are comparable to information or bits and code. Quite the contrary I will argue that initiatives to « open source seeds » are important exactly as counterweight to such notions.
While these initiatives are new and hence are still developing, they have a unique position. On the one hand, the language of ‘open source’ is turned into a simple, elegant and inclusive solution that has begun to be used by alliances and networks of farmers, public breeders, small seed companies, community-based seed distribution and others. This strengthens many existing and well-established activities and is quite familiar in its objectives in regard of seeds, plant materials and the associated international politics. On the other hand, the language of open source links these initiatives to the fast transformation of a wide variety of bio-economies that are each build on shifting constellations of facts, data and artifacts that are closely linked to developments in computation. Within this context, a renewal of approaches that foreground the materiality of seeds is a much needed challenge to bio-engineering visions that are presented as alternatives themselves, proposing new types of food and energy that require large quantities of cheap and abundant biological resources (e.g. biomass). In other words, I will argue that the potential of open source seeds as an alternative goes beyond the confines of the modern history of the extension of patenting and similar restrictions to seeds. Using the language of « open source » challenges the mistaken notion that agro-biodiversity is something from the past or a luxury isolated from economic concerns; rather it is the core of a promising innovation trajectory that offers a much needed challenge of the kind of alternative that modern society should be aiming for.

Eric Deibel received his Ph.D. in science and technology studies (STS) from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Its title was « common genomes » and the subject was “open source in the life sciences”. This includes a proposal for an open license for crops, which he first published on in 2006. He won an Andrew W. Mellon fellowship at the University of Indiana-Bloomington and an IFRIS fellowship (Institut Francilien Recherche Innovation Société) in Paris. Returning to the Netherlands he worked at Delft University and moved to Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, to develop his own STS course and curriculum  at the engineering department.