An Italian research group run by Professor Federico Infascelli of the University Federico II of Naples was recently informed that their 2013 paper that purported to show that GMO feed can cause detection of GMO DNA in the baby goats was being retracted because of plagiarism. This is featured today in Retraction Watch.
Infascelli is a professor of Nutrition in the Department of Veterinary Medicine, and has published a string of papers in the past few years purporting to find GMO plant DNA in the blood and milk of goats fed Roundup Ready Soybean meal. This has never been considered credible by other workers because they couldn’t repeat it, and we know that plant DNA is digested regardless of its source.
This essentially begins the collapse of Infascelli’s entire edifice, since it has been shown that the data seems to be faked, or at least edited.
How did this happen? Well, as described in the Italian press (and translated here), Infascelli’s work contradicted all other work in the field and when he was asked to speak about his work to the Italian Senate, Senator Elena Cataneo, who is also an experienced researcher, was skeptical and asked for more information. She began studying papers from Infascelli’s group and also published an open letter (here translated) to Professor Infascelli about these problems, but received no reply.
She also found that work by Infascelli and his colleague Raffaela Tudisco was being criticized on an on-line journal discussion site PubPeer. Here, scientists pointed out that Figure 4 in the 2010 (Tudisco-2010) was duplicated as Figure 1 in the 2013 paper (Mastellone-2013). While both figures were photos of a gel electrophoresis experiment, in the 2010 paper, the samples were from a liver and in 2013 from milk. Not only are the photos the same, even the noise spots are in the same places as illustrated in PubPeer and perhaps more clearly in the article in Biofortified. And in fact, it appears that the data in the 2013 paper were digitally edited as well.
Thus after petitions to the journal from a number of scientists, the 2013 paper was retracted by the journal. Ironically, Food and Nutrition Sciences is a low level pay-to-play journal that is on Beall’s list of predatory journals. It is published by the Chinese publisher Scientific Research, along with a host of other noncredible journals. And Infascelli himself is on its editorial board.
To make matters worse, researchers have also found that Figure 1 of a paper published late last year (Tudisco 2015) is identical to Figure 1 in Tudisco-2010. While no further retraction actions have yet been taken, both the journals and the University of Naples have undertaken further investigations according to Biofortified, and more actions are expected.
Tudisco, R., Mastellone, V., Cutrignelli, M. I., Lombardi, P., Bovera, F., Mirabella, N., Piccolo, G., Calabro, S., Avallone, L., & Infascelli, F. (2010). Fate of transgenic DNA and evaluation of metabolic effects in goats fed genetically modified soybean and in their offsprings.Animal, 4(10), pp. 1662-1671 DOI: 10.1017/S1751731110000728
Mastellone, R. Tudisco, G. Monastra, M. E. Pero, S. Calabrò, P. Lombardi, M. Grossi, M. I. Cutrignelli, L. Avallone, F. Infascelli. (2013). Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Activity in Kids Born from Goats Fed Genetically Modified Soybean. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 4:50-54 – RETRACTED DOI: 10.4236/fns.2013.46A006
Tudisco, R., Calabrò, S., Cutrignelli, M. I., Moniello, G., Grossi, M., Mastellone, V., Lombardi, P., Pero, M. E., & Infascelli, F. (2015). Genetically modified soybean in a goat diet: Influence on kid performance. Small Ruminant Research(0), pp.http://www.ask-force.org/web/HerbizideTol/Tudisco-GM-Soy-Goat-Kids-performance-2015.pdf