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Abstract

Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is a contractual document that governs the transfer of tangible research materials between two parties where the recipient intends to use in the recipient’s research program. It is an agreement outlining conditions under which material is provided from the owner to the recipient for a specific use. The MTA defines the rights of the provider and the recipient with respect to the material and its derivatives. Material could be a wide range of biological resources viz., seeds, plants, cultures, cell lines, plasmids, nucleotides, proteins, transgenics etc., any form of chemical compound and even some types of software. The MTA is legally binding for the use of material and the research results obtained thereof. It limits on the use of the material, confidentiality of information, specifies publication restrictions and the rights to inventions and utilisation of the results. There may be different types of MTA i.e. transfer between academic or research institutions, transfer from academic institution to industry and transfer from industry to institution and all of these would have different terms and conditions agreed upon by both the parties.
ISSN : 2348-8808 (Print ), 2348-8867 (Online)
Journal of AgriSearch 1(4): 242-245
Issues for Exchange of Plant Genetic Resources: Material Transfer
Agreement (MTA)
NIDHI VERMA*, SK YADAV, ANITA P, SP SINGH, AK SINGH1 AND YJ KHAN
Germplasm Exchange Unit, NBPGR, Pusa Campus, New Delhi (India)
ABSTRACT
Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is a contractual document that governs the transfer of
tangible research materials between two parties where the recipient intends to use in the
recipient’s research program. It is an agreement outlining conditions under which material
is provided from the owner to the recipient for a specic use. The MTA denes the rights
of the provider and the recipient with respect to the material and its derivatives. Material
could be a wide range of biological resources viz., seeds, plants, cultures, cell lines, plasmids,
nucleotides, proteins, transgenics etc., any form of chemical compound and even some types of
software. The MTA is legally binding for the use of material and the research results obtained
thereof. It limits on the use of the material, condentiality of information, species publication
restrictions and the rights to inventions and utilisation of the results. There may be different
types of MTA i.e. transfer between academic or research institutions, transfer from academic
institution to industry and transfer from industry to institution and all of these would have
different terms and conditions agreed upon by both the parties.
Keywords: Material Transfer Agreement, Treaty, Plant Genetic Resources,
Exchange
ARTICLE INFO
Received on : 17.09.2014
Revised received on : 30.09.2014
Accepted on : 12.10.2014
Published online : 05.12.2014
1ICAR-Research Complex for Eastern Region, Patna,
Bihar (India)
*Corresponding author E-mail: nidhipgr@gmail.com
Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) denes the rights
of the provider and the recipient with respect to transfer
of the material and its derivatives. It is an agreement
between parties that governs the transfer of tangible
research material in which the recipient intends to use
the material for research purposes (Rodriguez, 2005
and Tyagi et al., 2010). Material could be a wide range
of bio-resources viz., seeds, plants, cultures, cell lines,
plasmids, nucleotides, proteins, transgenics etc. or any
form of chemical compound and also some types of
software (Rodriguez, 2007). It is a document in which
the conditions under which the transfer of material is
made is provided from the owner to the recipient for
a specic use (Tyagi et al., 2010). MTA addresses the
issues of liability, publication, and intellectual property
rights that may result from the research. In addition,
concerns such as limits on the use of the materials are
included in MTA prior to the transfer of material. MTA
is made to address various issues such as ownership
of the transferred material and any of its modications
or derivatives. It limits on the use of the material,
confidentiality of information, specifies publication
restrictions and the rights to inventions and utilisation
of the results. The MTA is generally legally binding for
the use of material and the research results (Tyagi et al.,
2005). This is done to establish ownership of the material,
give some legal protection to the institution and the
providing scientist from potential liability resulting from
the use of the material, and assure that the source of the
material is identied and given appropriate credit in any
resulting publications (Rodriguez et al., 2007). The MTA
could be of various types, viz., between two academic or
research institutions; academic institution and industry
and vice versa and all of these will have different terms
and conditions as agreed upon by the parties (Tyagi et
al., 2005). There are multilateral agreements also, which
SHORT NOTE
[Journal of AgriSearch, Vol.1, No.4] Exchange of PGR: Material Transfer Agreement 243
species conditions for transfer of material between
more than two parties.
MTA is a contractual document used for the acquisition
of various biological research materials and occasionally
data, developed by non prot, government and private
industry. The owner of the material would want to
ensure that MTA terms permit full dissemination of
research results, and do not conict with their policies.
Because of these differing views of MTA, the necessary
negotiations to accommodate the needs of both parties
can be time consuming. The usual areas of negotiation
relate to publications, use of the research results, and
the ownership of the technology generated by the
research. In case of government organisations where
a high proportion of its research funding is received
from the Government, it becomes important to ensure
that MTA meet policies as well as the requirements of
funding agencies including the policy on the sharing
of research tools. The MTA addresses the issues of
liability, publication and intellectual property rights
that may result from the research. In addition, concerns
such as limits on the use of the materials are frequently
included in MTA prior to the transfer of material. The
understanding established by the MTA can help avoid
later issues and ensure the collaborative nature of the
research.
On behalf of an organisation, a researcher would sign the
MTA and he will be responsible for the associated legal
and nancial risks. MTA usually does not convey the
details of funding sources; however, it is still a binding
document with possible penalties for violations of the
terms of the funding agencies. It is important for the
researcher to read the terms of MTA before transmitting
it for the provider’s signature and it is assumed that a
researcher who had signed MTA has read and agrees
to conform to those terms.
The transfer of materials with a non prot institution
should be as simple as possible. Typically, most of
the Government institutions/Universities are non
prot entities and use a simple agreement with a few
restrictions and agreement is done expeditiously. The
transfer of materials to or from the prot sector is usually
more complex, as the corporate entity has an often
aggressive interest in protecting its proprietary rights.
There are also a number of differing contractual formats
for transfer of materials from industry (Rodriguez,
2008).
Contact details: The names, complete contact details and
e-mail address of a contact person for the other party
must be provided in the document before submission to
expedite the process of transfer of the material.
Intellectual Property Rights: The provider will not
sign any agreement with “reach through” intellectual
property rights or publication restrictions. "Reach
through" rights are when a provider obtains rights to
improvements, modications or inventions made by the
researcher in the course of the research, and this can even
include royalty or fees paid to the provider.
Incomplete agreements: The MTA should always be
signed in duplicate in a bipartite agreement and signed
original copies are required. The recipient must sign
on two copies before sending it to the provider of the
material. If the MTA requires the details of materials to
be lled in, it may be done accordingly and if there is
a requirement of research scope to be included, it may
be attached with the document. The signature of the
recipient along with date is a must and the provider
would sign only on the complete agreements.
Conicting contractual obligations: MTA that relate to
other sponsored agreements or MTA must be carefully
evaluated to ensure that we do not have terms between
the multiple documents that conict with one another.
When the terms of an MTA conflict with another
agreement, changes will have to be negotiated, and this
may cause delay.
Warranty or indemnication: The organisation is a non
prot entity and cannot give warranties for research,
results, or materials. We cannot agree to assure a
sponsor against harm or damages from use of results
or materials.
Other party unwillingness to negotiate: Some MTA
are presented as containing non-negotiable language.
While the ofce of research is frequently successful in
negotiating appropriate language, we cannot negotiate
with a party who is unwilling to do so. The ofce of
research will make more than one attempt to enter into
a dialog, but if the other party is unwilling, our options
are quite limited.
Confidentiality: When confidential information is
exchanged along with the material, the company may
request that such information not be further disclosed.
If the information is necessary for interpretation of the
research results obtained using the material, that same
information may also be required for publication of
those results. Having agreed to hold the information
condential could prohibit an investigator from ever
publishing the results of work using the company's
244 Verma et al. [Journal of AgriSearch, Vol.1, No.4]
material.
Delay in publication: In order to protect potentially
patentable inventions, companies often demand a review
period for the investigator's manuscripts, abstracts or
hard-copies of presentation materials. This demand may
jeopardize the timeliness of publication.
Use of materials in sponsored research projects: In
many industries MTA contain language that prohibits
the use of the material in research that is subject to
licensing or consulting obligations to any third party,
including the sponsor of the research project.
Loss of control of intellectual property: If MTA
pre-empt ownership rights, investigators may be
restricted in their ability to interact with a future
sponsor or may have conicts with obligations to current
sponsors. Intellectual property restrictions may prevent
the institution from obtaining or conveying rights to
future licensees.
Standard Material Transfer Agreements (SMTA)
No country is self-sufcient in plant genetic resources;
all depends on genetic diversity in crops from other
countries and regions. International cooperation and
open exchange of genetic resources are therefore
essential for food security. The fair sharing of benets
arising from the use of these resources has for the rst
time been practically implemented at the international
level through the International Treaty on Plant Genetic
Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), and
it’s SMTA. In adopting the International Treaty, the
FAO Conference requested the Commission on Genetic
Resources for Food and Agriculture to act as Interim
Committee for the Treaty, to decide upon the terms of
the SMTA.
The Treaty aims at
n Recognizing the enormous contribution of farmers
to the diversity of crops that feed the world.
n Establishing a global system to provide farmers,
plant breeders and scientists with access to plant
genetic materials.
n Ensuring that recipients share benets they derive
from the use of these genetic materials with the
countries where they have been originated.
A legally binding treaty, which envisages a facilitated
access to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture
held by countries through multilateral system (MS) of
exchange. This access under the Treaty would be only for
utilization, conservation, research, breeding, training and
an access for chemical, pharmaceutical and other non-
food and non-feed purposes is not covered by the treaty.
The diversity of the legal systems of the contracting
parties with respect to their national procedural rules
governing access to courts and to arbitration, and the
obligations arising from international and regional
conventions applicable to these procedural rules, is
recognized.
Role of National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources
(NBPGR) in India
Exchange of Plant Genetic Resources plays a vital role in
crop improvement programmes world wide. Realizing
the importance of genetic resources the erstwhile Plant
Introduction Division of IARI was elevated as a separate
institute NBPGR in 1976 and the unit dealing with
germplasm exchange to researchers/scientists working
in various research organizations in the country. The
Division of germplasm Exchange has the following
mandate and the activities are carried out in a systematic
manner. Bureau receives a large number of requests
from Indian scientists for materials already available
in the country. If the desired materials are available
in the Bureau, these are collected and forwarded to the
indentor, or else the requests are forwarded to various
sources in India and the material thus procured is
forwarded to the indentor under MTA (Singh et al., 2009
and Singh et al., 2010).
Procedure for Indenting Germplasm from NBPGR/
NAGS
n All the requests for supply of germplasm stored/
maintained by NBPGR/NAGS should be sent to the
Director, NBPGR, Pusa Campus, New Delhi-110012.
n Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) signed by recipient
must be sent with the request. MTA can be downloaded
from (www.nbpgr.ernet.in)
n Feed back information on the performance or utilization of
material along with sufcient quantity of multiplied seed
must be sent to Director, NBPGR, New Delhi.
REfERENCES
Rodriguez V. 2005. Material transfer agreements: open
science vs. proprietary claims. Nature Biotechnology 23
(4): 489–491.
Rodriguez V. 2007. Merton and Ziman’s modes of science:
The case of biological and similar material transfer
agreements. Science and Public Policy.34 (5):355–363.
Rodriguez V. 2008. Governance of material transfer agreements.
Technology in Society 30 (2):122–128.
Rodriguez, V and Koenraad D. 2007.Strategies for satisfying
[Journal of AgriSearch, Vol.1, No.4] Exchange of PGR: Material Transfer Agreement 245
the need of research materials. Les Nouvelles, September,
pp. 529-3.
Singh AK, Verma N, Tyagi V, Dimree S .2010. Indian needs
of crop genetic resources–setting priorities. Prog Agric.
10: 1-16.
Singh AK, Verma N, Yadav SK, Mohanty A, Singh SP and Singh
S. 2009. Indian Forage Genetic Resources: Perspectives
and Strategies. Prog. Agri. 9 (2): 250-256.
Correct Citation:
Verma N, Yadav SK, Anita P, Singh SP, Singh AK and Khan YJ. 2014. Issues for Exchange of Plant Genetic Resources:
Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). Journal of AgriSearch 1(4): 242-245.
Tyagi V, Brahmi P and Singh AK. 2010. International Treaty
on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
(TPGRFA) and its implications on access to Plant
Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA).
Int. J. Trop. Agr. 28:62 - 67.
Tyagi V, Singh AK, Deepchand, Singh RV and Dhillon BS. 2005.
Plant Introduction in India during Pre-and Post-CBD
periods. Indian J. Plant Genet Resour. 18 (1): 27-28.
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