FACT CHECK: Does Human Saliva Turn Plants Into ‘Superfood’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims adding human saliva to the “seed of an edible plant” will allow it to become a “superfood.”

Facebook/Screenshot

Verdict: False

There is no evidence human saliva can change the genetic makeup of plants. Experts called the claim “bogus.”

Fact Check:

Social media is often replete with misinformation. This particular Facebook post claims edible plants can be mutated to be superfoods by adding human saliva before planting them.

“Plants have super intelligence,” the Facebook post reads. “If you put your saliva on the seed of an edible plant and place it in the soil, something miraculous will happen. The plant will read your DNA and structure its own genetic blueprint to be a superfood based on any deficiencies or requirements that your DNA is signaling.”

There is, however, no evidence that adding saliva to a seed before planting it will change the plant’s genetic make up. A search of the Botanical Society of America’s website, as well as the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s website, turned up no mention of human saliva modifying edible plants. Had such a discovery been made, media outlets certainly would have reported on it, yet none have, except to debunk the claim.

While plants can be genetically modified, the process is more complex than adding human saliva to the seed. The desired trait must be isolated first, and then a “gene gun” or biologically engineered bacteria is used to insert the desired trait into a new plant, according to a blog published by Harvard University.

“Completely bogus and not possible,” Terrence H. Bell, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s department of plant pathology and environmental microbiology, told Check Your Fact in an email. (RELATED: Did Scientists Discover Devils Tower Was Originally A Giant Tree?)

Other experts agreed. Botanists Dr. David Orlovich and Dr. David Burritt, associate professors at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said in a statement to Check Your Fact: “There is no biological mechanism by which such a thing can occur.”

“DNA itself is not acted upon by environmental forces like ‘deficiencies or requirements’, rather the human body itself will respond to nutrient deficiencies, requirements, superfoods etc,” they further explained. “So, here is just no biological mechanism by which plant DNA can sense nutritional needs of a human via human DNA.”

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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