The Next Generation of Organic Plant Breeders

SOSS logoThe journal Sustainability recently published an article about the first Student Organic Seed Symposium (SOSS) and what it demonstrates about the blossoming field of organic plant breeding.

Organic farmers need more breeders developing varieties specifically adapted for their production systems. Fortunately, in contrast to many fields within conventional breeding programs, organic plant breeding is growing, with enthusiastic new plant breeders being trained at our public universities. The first SOSS, of which OSA participated in, was coordinated by graduate students who saw a need to help strengthen the newly forming community of organic plant breeding students. Students from many backgrounds came together to build a national network of the next generation of organic plant breeders and learn from experts in their field.

As the authors of the article write:

As future professionals in these fields, we have an important voice to contribute to the organic seed movement. To the extent that development of strong organic systems helps further the broader goal of sustainable agriculture, graduate student interest in organic plant breeding represents one important opportunity to collectively move towards that goal, and underscores the necessity of building and maintaining strong public plant breeding programs that can facilitate this work.

“It’s the 10th anniversary of OSA,” says our co-founder Matthew Dillon. “Ten years ago it would have been impossible for me to imagine that something like the SOSS would exist. These students give me great faith for the future of organic seed.”

The next SOSS will be held this August in Mt. Vernon, Washington. OSA staff will be presenting on the topics of organic plant breeding and seed advocacy, and the students will visit many of OSA’s breeding projects at our Washington farm sites.

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