Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

GM crop biosafety lab folds

A fully equipped laboratory for studying pathogen-resistant transgenic plants will close its doors by the year's end. The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) Biosafety Outstation in Ca'Tron di Roncade, Treviso, Italy, was set up to study potential risks concerning genetically modified crops and plant pathogens of importance to the developing world. The outstation's facilities, part of the ICGEB, were refurbished with financing from Treviso-based Cassamarca Foundation, supported by banking group Unicredit. But the bank's financial woes have prevented the foundation from renewing the €4-million ($5.7 million), 5-year contract, says Mark Tepfer, leader of the outstation's Plant Virology group. Tepfer will transfer some his projects to his permanent appointment at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Paris. “I'm fairly optimistic that we'll find a way to continue,” he adds. The ICGEB operates under a treaty signed by 59 countries within the United Nations system to conduct research and education in biomedicine, crop improvement, environmental remediation and biopharmaceutical and biopesticide production throughout the developing world. ICGEB administrator Decio Ripandelli hopes to shift some of the outstation's research and education programs to the Trieste and New Delhi groups. Ripandelli says he lobbied the Cassamarca Foundation to put the facilities, including a high-containment greenhouse, into a “pharmacological coma” to avoid restarting from scratch but the foundation is noncommittal. Ripandelli says, “It's really a pity and a scandal if the facilities are not used.”


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Laursen, L. GM crop biosafety lab folds. Nat Biotechnol 28, 10 (2010).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing