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Fact check: Video takes Bill Gates’ comments about GMO crops out of context

Social media users have shared misleading videos of Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

An edited video with the caption ‘the biggest unexpected truth bomb ever on live TV’ shows Gates saying: “Genetically modified organisms, and we’re injecting them into little kid’s arms, we just shoot them right in the vein” (here). The clip also featured in a ‘documentary’ on the video viewing website OurTube (here).

However, Gates’s comments were taken out of context. They were edited from a broadcast by the pan-European media network Euractiv from 2015, which showed Gates and his wife Melinda speaking in Brussels about their endorsement of genetically modified organism (GMO) crops (here).

GMO crops have their genetic material modified to give new properties - for instance to be resistant to disease or drought - but some environmentalists believe they are a threat to ecosystems. GMOs are grown and sold under different regulations in the US (here), the EU (here) and the UK (here).

Gates said the strongest analogy when speaking about GMOs was with medicines, where people also worry about side effects. He argued that medicines have trials and checks to ensure they are safe and the same logic should be applied to GMOs, rather than rejecting a technology ‘that promises to solve nutrition problems, solve productivity problems, solve crop disease problems for African farmers’.

His reference to injecting genetically modified organisms was shared without context, so it misleadingly appeared Gates was discussing the use of GMOs in vaccines for children.

The Facebook post also included a video of Gates answering questions without context. The clip was from a taped deposition by Gates that was shown in a United States trial in 2000 investigating whether Microsoft had engaged in illegal anti-competitive behaviour by monopolising the market (here). This particular video shows Gates rocking as he answers questions, leading some Facebook users to question his movements. While Gates does move around in this particular video (here), other unofficial clips of the deposition found on YouTube show him sitting perfectly still here and here). Official records of the case are available on the United States Department of Justice website (here).

VERDICT

Misleading. This Facebook post takes videos of Bill Gates out of context and presents them as a ‘truth bomb’ relating to debunked conspiracy theories.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts www.reuters.com/fact-check/about .

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