In DepthCosta Rica

Celebrated biodiversity institute faces financial crisis

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Science  19 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6216, pp. 1440
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6216.1440

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A pioneering effort to show that preserving tropical biodiversity can pay big dividends is in danger of shutting down. Costa Rica's new government is reviewing a previous administration's plan to bail the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) out of crippling debt and has revoked some of its government contracts. INBio has been struggling to pay the debt it incurred to build a costly theme park; last year, the government agreed to buy the park and assume responsibility for INBio's collection of 3.5 million specimens. But the current administration is reviewing the land sale, leaving INBio supporters worried the institute will go under. The current crisis has some scientists rethinking the wisdom of INBio's private funding model, which is based on bioprospecting contracts with drug companies and other corporations.