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RNA engineering in crops can’t be used to cause infertility

A wildly inaccurate video that pushes the false claim that food can now be engineered to cause infertility specifically in Black people circulated across social media platforms in early 2022. Let’s take a look at the facts.

A screenshot of a TikTok “duet” style video that shows an image of someone who appears to be a scientist above a different image of a TikTok user. The text superimposed on the video says, “This is scary. They really hate us!” The News Literacy Project added a label that says, “FALSE.”
A technology used in agriculture called “RNA interference” cannot be used to control the population through infertility, as this TikTok video claims.
RNA interference is used in agriculture to fight pests and make crops more nutritious and more resilient to the impact of climate change.
The top video in this post is narrated by Mike Adams, a notorious purveyor of medical disinformation who runs the conspiracy theory website Natural News.
Crops that use RNA interference technology cannot be engineered to harm people, and do not cause infertility or other reproductive issues.
RNA interference cannot somehow target a specific race..

NewsLit takeaway

Social media posts that make shocking or extraordinary claims should be approached with a high degree of skepticism. This is especially true of claims that invoke expansive, far-fetched conspiracy theories. This example features a TikTok user (at bottom) and a clip (at top) from a baseless conspiracy theory “lecture” by Adams. The original video from 2017 attempted to falsely connect the development of this gene-silencing technology to horrifying examples of historic medical abuse of Black people in the United States, which included egregiously unethical reproductive experiments. It taps into longstanding distrust in the Black community of the medical community and of government.

Here is a full copy of the video:

Related: “Why false claims about Covid-19 vaccines and infertility are so powerful” (Anna North, Vox).

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