FACT CHECK: Did Bill Gates Open A ‘Synthetic Breastmilk Plant’?
A post shared on Facebook claims Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates opened a “synthetic breastmilk plant” while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) won’t let infant formula plants reopen.
While Gates is invested in BIOMILQ, a company that is researching synthetic breastmilk, the company has not opened any manufacturing plant. The FDA is working to reopen an Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan and is taking steps to ease the formula shortage.
The U.S. is currently in the midst of an infant formula shortage, according to NPR. A viral Facebook post claims Gates may be behind the shortage. “Look another coincidence,” reads the post. “FDA won’t let formula plant reopen but Bill Gates opens a synthetic breastmilk plant.”
The claim is false. While the Gates-founded venture capitalist group Breakthrough Energy Ventures is invested in BIOMILQ, a company that is researching synthetic breastmilk, there is no evidence the company or Gates has opened a plant to produce synthetic breastmilk. The company has not announced the opening of a synthetic breastmilk plant on its social media accounts or through its website. There are likewise no credible news reports suggesting such a plant has opened.
“BIOMILQ is in its research and development stage so we do not have a factory nor do we have a product on the market yet,” said a spokesperson for the company in an email to Check Your Fact. “We hope to have a product on the market in 4-5 years.” (RELATED: Does This Photo Show Stacks Of Baby Formula Boxes At The Border In May 2022?)
The claim about the FDA is likewise false. While an Abbott Nutrition factory in Sturgis, Michigan voluntarily closed in February due to suspected contamination at the facility, it is currently working with the FDA to reopen, according to CNBC. The company has agreed to enter a consent agreement with the FDA that allows it to reopen its Michigan factory within two weeks of the FDA approving the improved manufacturing conditions.
The FDA is currently taking steps to address the ongoing baby formula shortage, including regularly meeting with manufacturers to study their manufacturing capacity and expediting the review of manufacturing changes, according to an FDA press release.