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Fact Check-Social media posts misrepresent Bill Gates’s initiatives to tackle world poverty and disease

Claims that Bill Gates has chosen to “pump his money” into nefarious projects that include “blocking out the sun” and “producing toxic vaccines” instead of ending poverty and bettering the environment are misleading. Posts containing these assertions misrepresent the Microsoft co-founder’s well publicised aims to fight global inequality and climate change.

A meme comprising the claims has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook and includes a green-filtered image of Gates’s face. The superimposed caption reads: “When a guy has enough money to end world hunger, end poverty, generate the soil and clean the oceans instead chooses to pump his money into GMO mosquitos, blocking out the sun, creating fake meat and most importantly producing toxic vaccines for 7 billion people you have to ask your self [sic] why?” (here).

This post has taken several of Gates’ initiatives out of context and in so doing misrepresented the billionaire’s stated intentions, namely to use his wealth to find ways to end poverty, tackle diseases, and halt climate change (gates.ly/3vRY4go , here , here). Many of these goals have been documented since Bill and his (soon-to-be ex) wife Melinda Gates co-founded their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (here) in 2000, merging the William H. Gates Foundation of Bill Gates’s father with the Gates Learning Foundation. It is now one of the world’s largest charitable organisations with a focus on public health and education.

Between 1994 and 2018, the Gateses have given the foundation more than $36 billion, according to the foundation website, with grants also including $1.75 billion to vaccine initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic (here).

However, the Facebook post’s comment about “toxic” vaccines likely stems from misinformation, previously debunked by Reuters, about plans to tackle overpopulation. Bill Gates told a TED conference in 2010 that improved public health care, like reproductive services and vaccines, could limit population growth. These comments have since been repeatedly taken out of context to suggest Gates plans to kill billions of people with inoculations. More can be seen about these claims here , here and here .

Similarly, his investments in genetically modified (GMO) mosquitos relate to the foundation’s goals of ending poverty, disease and inequality around the world (www.gatesfoundation.org/). Oxitec, a British biotechnology company (www.oxitec.com), has released genetically modified mosquitoes with a self-limiting gene in Brazil (here), the Cayman Islands (here), Panama (here) and the United States (here).

These insects mate with female Aedes aegypti mosquitos that carry dangerous diseases like yellow fever, dengue, and the Zira virus, and in so doing stop their offspring surviving into adulthood (here). Critics have raised concerns that GMO mosquitos could damage eco-systems (here), but Gates has defended the technologies as a powerful tool against disease (here and here).

Meanwhile, the mention of “fake meat” likely refers to Gates’ advocacy for switching meat to synthetics to avoid a climate disaster (tcrn.ch/3tAl6qk , here). “Blocking out the sun” refers to a geo-engineering experiment overseen by Harvard University (here) as a potential way to cool the planet.

Both these latter initiatives have also received criticism (here , here , here); however, they still serve as an example of Gates’ overall stated goals to fight poverty, disease and climate change.

Bill Gates has been the target of many baseless conspiracy theories since the pandemic began. These have been addressed in checks seen here , here and here .

VERDICT

Missing context. The Facebook post has misrepresented Bill Gates’ stated philanthropic aims. Whether or not users agree he has taken the best approach for spending his wealth, it is well publicised that his goals are to end poverty and disease worldwide, as well as to halt climate change.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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