The need to transfer human biological materials (HBMs) across national boundaries has become increasingly important in view of increased
biobank and commercial activities globally. In light of South Africa (SA)’s history of colonisation and racial discrimination, coupled with
well-known instances of exploitation of research participants in the developing world, it is critical that the management of HBMs from and
to other jurisdictions is explored and regulated. Material transfer agreements (MTAs) represent an important point of departure in such a
process. This article explores the need for a uniform MTA in SA and discusses some aspects of the recently gazetted national MTA, which
provides a framework that can serve as a safeguard for cross-border transfer of HBMs in the absence of the National Health Act’s chapter
8 regulations in this regard.