Plant Genetic Resource Policy
Conditions for Acquisition, Use and Distributions of Collections

Approved by the MBG Board of Trustees

April 20, 2005

Mission Statement

The mission of the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) is “To discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment, in order to preserve and enrich life.”


This policy aims to define the principles for acquisition, use, and distribution of plant materials and information about plants for research, education, and display purposes at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Staff of the MBG acquire, through collection, exchange, or purchase, plants or specimens of plants for the living or preserved collections and to be used in research, education, and display programs. Well-documented collections are a critical component of display, research, education, and display programs at the MBG and their acquisition and exchange are essential for the MBG to fulfill its mission.

The MBG works to ensure that all plant genetic resources are:

  1. collected or otherwise acquired in strict compliance with all international, national, and local laws and regulations;
  2. collected or otherwise acquired according to appropriate scientific and cultural standards;
  3. used to support research, education, and display programs that improve our knowledge of plants;
  4. used to support efforts to conserve botanical diversity in nature and in cultivation; and
  5. acquired and used in a manner that ensures that all stakeholders benefit equitably from all MBG programs.
The MBG recognizes that States have sovereign rights over their biological resources, and that States have the authority to determine access to biological resources through national legislation. The MBG also recognizes that indigenous and local communities have knowledge, innovations, and practices relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources. The MBG is therefore committed to fair and equitable sharing of the benefits that may arise from the use of biological resources with source countries and also with indigenous and local communities.


Basic Research is aimed at the expansion of knowledge and does not have the goal of product development.

Collections are living plants or specimens or any kind of plant genetic resources that are maintained in any of the MBG programs.

Commercial Research is aimed at the discovery and/or development of marketable products.

Intellectual Property Rights are the rights of an inventor or creator to protect their intellectual work and exclude others from practicing their inventions or creations without permission.

Material Transfer Agreement is a legally binding agreement specifying the provisions under which biological material or information collected by one organization with prior informed consent may be transferred to another organization for additional studies.

Plant Genetic Resources include plants, parts of plants, or any other biotic derivative of plants. (Synonymous with Plant Material within this policy).

Prior Informed Consent is approval for project activities granted by an authorized source-country government organization, community, or land-holder to whom full disclosure and explanation of expected activities and their ramifications have been made.

Samples are bulk collections of plants or parts of plants intended for evaluation and development of plant-derived products in commercial research programs.

Source Country is the sovereign nation from which plant genetic resources are obtained.

Specimens are preserved plant material that are scientifically documented and stored permanently in an herbarium or other collection for scientific study in basic research programs.

Traditional Knowledge is a culturally-defined, dynamic information system that is held by local communities.


All plant material for the MBG will be acquired in strict accordance with the provisions set forth in this policy. Plant material acquired through third parties by purchase, exchange, or donation will only be accepted when it is provided in strict accordance with the provisions of this policy.

All plant material will be acquired in strict compliance with all international, national, and local treaties, laws, and regulations. These may include, but are not limited to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Lacy Act, and rules and regulations of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine Division (APHIS-PPQ).
All plant material will be acquired only with proper prior informed consent of relevant governments, communities, land-holders, or other stakeholders.

Plant material will be collected, exported, and/or imported only when all necessary permits or other forms of permission have been obtained.

Records of prior informed consent and/or necessary permits will be maintained at the MBG.
MBG staff will make their best effort to ensure that all plant material and information about plants obtained by the MBG is acquired in a manner that is sensitive to the traditions of relevant local communities and respectful of their traditional knowledge.

All MBG staff will make collections in a manner that is consistent with community standards for ensuring that collecting does not threaten local plant populations.

MBG will refuse any plant material that may be available through purchase, exchange, or donation if there is any reason to believe that it was collected, produced, or otherwise obtained in conflict with any of the provisions above (collected, produced, obtained illegally or exported without prior informed consent or appropriate permits), was collected in a manner that threatens or damages plant populations, or lacks adequate documentation of compliance with relevant treaties, conventions, laws, or regulations. The MBG will retain the option to receive plant material confiscated by duly authorized governmental authorities because of non-compliance with the above conditions.


The MBG will use plant genetic resources exclusively for purposes consistent with the terms and conditions under which they were acquired. Plant materials that were acquired for display, educational, or basic research will not be made available for commercial research unless explicit permission is granted from relevant governmental authorities or other relevant stakeholders.

The MBG will make collections accessible in a reasonable and equitable manner to individuals with a legitimate need who agree to use the resources in a manner consistent with the terms and conditions under with they were acquired.

Collections must be used in a manner consistent with herbarium policies.

The MBG reserves the right to refuse access to collections any individual who does not comply with provisions of this policy.


Plant materials and/or their derivatives will be transferred to third parties as loans, gifts, exchanges, or sales only in a manner consistent with the terms and conditions under which they were acquired.

Research collections are available to support basic research and are not generally available for commercial research.
Material for commercial research is provided only through specific arrangements and subject to agreements that meet the criteria defined below. Herbarium specimens are loaned to bona fide researchers subject to the MBG loan policy. Duplicate herbarium specimens that are exchanged with or sent as gifts to other institutions are sent with the understanding that they will be accepted with willingness to us the specimens only in a manner consistent with the terms and conditions under which they were acquired. Samples from the MBG DNA-Bank are distributed subject to the terms of the DNA-Bank Material Transfer Agreement and are not available for commercial research purposes.

Plant material is made available by the MBG for commercial research purposes only when:

  1. the terms of prior informed consent and any necessary permits for collection, export, and/or import of the material are consistent with the fully disclosed commercial goals;
  2. material can be made available in a manner compliant with the Convention on Biological Diversity and other relevant international, national, and local treaties, laws, and regulations;
  3. materials were collected in a manner that is sensitive and respectful of local practices and traditional knowledge; and
  4. when appropriate mechanisms have been developed to ensure equitable distributions of benefits that may arise from such research.

Samples collected by MBG personnel for commercial purposes will be delivered only to those organizations for whom prior informed consent has been obtained for a specific use and the material will be used only as designated in agreements, accords, or contracts that define acceptable use. These stipulations can be modified only by amendment of the contract or via a material transfer agreement signed by all appropriate parties.

Benefit Sharing

The Missouri Botanical Garden is committed to the principle that all relevant stakeholders are entitled to an equitable share of the benefits that may arise from MBG research. The MBG will make its best efforts to ensure that any discoveries or intellectual property that arise through use or study of its collections or through its collaborations is protected in a manner that ensures the availability of such discoveries or intellectual property to improve the lives, benefit the people, or otherwise meet the needs of source countries.

The MBG recognizes that there are a wide range of potential benefits that vary greatly and may include but not be limited to non-monetary benefits, such as shared research experiences, co-authorship of scientific publications, access to specimens and data, and monetary benefits, such as milestone payments or royalties.

The MBG recognizes that each country has a sovereign right to protect, conserve, and develop its biodiversity in a sustainable manner. Therefore, as a participant in research programs to develop commercial applications of plant material, the MBG will make its best effort to ensure that:

  1. an equitable and appropriate percentage of benefits from all MBG research programs, and an equitable share of benefits from any products that arise from this research, will return to the source country and/or local communities;
  2.  the value of traditional knowledge is recognized and that benefits are shared with indigenous communities in an equitable manner;
  3. the source country and/or local communities will have “first right of refusal” to develop an appropriate and sustainable supply or raw biological source materials necessary for the continued research, development, and/or eventual commercial production of any derived product;
  4. the opportunities for research originating as a direct result of any program are shared in an equitable manner between the MBG and collaborating source-country institutions or communities.

The MBG will only enter into commercial research agreements with a provision ensuring that royalties, and/or other monetary benefits, will be paid to source-countries in the event a discovery is marketed and generates profits. In the event that a discovery is commercialized, MBG will use reasonable efforts to ensure that all royalties will be paid to an appropriate source-country organization. The MBG will share at least 50% of such royalties with source country organizations as defined by agreements.


The MBG Collections Committee will oversee implementation of this policy and ensure that:

  1. all plant material is acquired, used, and distributed in conformity with the principles and requirements of this policy and in full compliance with all international, national, and local treaties, laws, and regulations.
  2. MBG staff receive training on issues related to plant acquisition and the laws and regulations relevant to acquisition, export, and import of plant material.

The Collections Committee will serve as a liaison with those organizations that administer laws and regulations relevant to plant acquisition to ensure that staff are aware of changes.

The Collections Committee will consist of the Director of the Garden, the heads of the Horticulture and Research Divisions, the Curator of the Herbarium, and their designated representatives.