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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek February 28, 2024

No proof a study found lab-grown meat funded by Bill Gates causes 'turbo cancer'

If Your Time is short

  • PolitiFact found no reliable studies or news reports supporting the claim that lab-grown meat causes fast-growing cancer some are calling "turbo cancer." 

  • We traced this viral headline to a website known for publishing misinformation.

  • Learn more about PolitiFact’s fact-checking process and rating system.

A truck with a turbocharged engine boasts enhanced performance and fuel efficiency. TurboTax is one option for filing tax returns online. Turbo cancer … doesn’t exist.

But that didn’t prevent Instagram users from sharing alarming claims about a meat alternative Feb. 22

"Study Reveals Bill Gates’ Fake Meat Causes ‘Turbo Cancers’ in Humans," read the post’s caption. "Bill Gates’ lab-grown meat causes cancer in humans who consume it, according to a disturbing new study." 

An image accompanying the post showed Gates, who co-founded Microsoft Corp., and a screenshot that purported to show something Gates posted on X: "Cancers found in fake meat are totally harmless to humans." 

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

(Screenshot from Instagram.)

Gates, a billionaire who has invested heavily in charities and climate research, has invested in companies creating meat substitutes using plant-based ingredients and laboratory technology. 

The original article with a headline that matched the Instagram post was published Feb. 23, 2023, on The People’s Voice, a website that has spread misinformation before. We’ve fact-checked the site’s false headlines numerous times, and Baxter Dmitry — who is credited with writing the article — is a byline seen often on misinformation sites

The article doesn’t cite a specific study that supports its claims that "fake" or lab-grown meat causes cancer. 

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It linked to a Bloomberg News article about some lab-grown meat companies’ use of "immortalized cells," or cells that proliferate indefinitely. Cancer researchers told Bloomberg News that "because the cells aren’t human, it’s essentially impossible for people who eat them to get cancer from them, or for the precancerous or cancerous cells to replicate inside people at all."

Bloomberg News noted that there are no long-term health studies backing the scientific consensus that immortalized cells are safe to consume. Bloomberg News also said "there’s no evidence that cultured meat cells are going to become cancerous in a diner’s body." 

Scientists who study cultivated meat told The Associated Press that it’s inaccurate to say that immortalized cells used to create lab-grown meat are cancerous.

The People’s Voice article also linked to a Children’s Health Defense article about a protein used in plant-based Impossible Burgers; it did not mention lab-created meat. Children’s Health Defense is an anti-vaccine legal advocacy group created by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 

Neither the Bloomberg News nor the Children’s Health Defense articles contained the word "turbo" or the phrase "turbo cancer." The term "turbo cancer" was popularized by anti-vaccine activists, who’ve repeatedly claimed — contrary to available evidence — that COVID-19 vaccines cause unusually aggressive, fast-growing cancer

PolitiFact searched the Nexis database for news reports containing mentions of "turbo cancer" and "lab-grown meat," and found nothing.

Also, an advanced X search for the comment Gates allegedly posted about "cancers found in fake meats" showed no results.

Our ruling

An Instagram post claimed a study revealed "Bill Gates’ Fake Meat Causes ‘Turbo Cancers’ in Humans." 

We found neither reliable studies nor news reports supporting the claim that lab-grown meat causes fast-growing cancer that some people are calling "turbo cancer." 

We traced this claim back to an article on a website known for spreading misinformation. That article did not provide the study that purportedly supported the claim and it showed no proof that lab-grown meat is unsafe. 

We rate this claim False.

RELATED: What Bill Gates has to do with livestock, lab-grown meat

Our Sources

Top Speed, The Benefits To Driving A Car With A Turbocharged Engine, Oct. 15, 2023

National Cancer Institute, COVID-19 Vaccines and People with Cancer, accessed Feb. 28, 2024

Public Health Communications Collaborative, False claims persist about COVID-19 vaccine-linked "turbo cancers," Aug. 18, 2023 

Science-Based Medicine, Do COVID-19 vaccines cause "turbo cancer"? Dec. 19, 2022

PolitiFact, What Bill Gates has to do with livestock, lab-grown meat, May 18, 2020

The People’s Voice, Study Reveals Bill Gates’ Fake Meat Causes ‘Turbo Cancers’ in Humans, Feb. 23, 2023

NewsPunch, Study: Bill Gates’ Lab Grown Meat Causes Cancer in Humans, Feb. 21, 2023

LeadStories, Fact Check: Report Does NOT Prove 'Bill Gates' Lab-Grown Meat Causes Cancer In Humans,' Feb. 23, 2023

USA Today, Fact check: False claim study found Bill Gates-backed meat causes cancer, March 8, 2023

Poynter, Fact-checkers have debunked this fake news site 80 times. It’s still publishing on Facebook, July 20, 2018, Misinformation Directory, Nov. 12, 2018

NewsWhip, Who is still sharing fake news on social media? April 24, 2018

PolitiFact, Claim that Klaus Schwab’s daughter warned of climate lockdowns is from misinformation site, Aug. 23, 2023

PolitiFact, Fake story about death of Burisma 'whistleblower' started on site known for misinformation, Oct. 3, 2023

PolitiFact, WEF’s Klaus Schwab didn’t admit a revolution is destroying his ‘Great Reset’ agenda, Jan. 26, 2024

Bloomberg News, Lab-Grown Meat Has a Bigger Problem Than the Lab, Feb. 7, 2023

U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Human Food Made with Cultured Animal Cells, March 21, 2023

PolitiFact, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign of conspiracy theories: PolitiFact’s 2023 Lie of the Year, Dec. 21, 2023

The Associated Press, Animal cells used to create lab-grown meat are not cancerous, experts say, June 30, 2023

American Cancer Society, COVID-19 Vaccines in People with Cancer, accessed Feb. 28, 2024

Children’s Health Defense, Could Impossible Burger’s Key GMO Ingredient Cause Weight Gain, Kidney Disease in Humans? Sept. 22, 2022

PolitiFact, Oft-repeated claim again debunked: Experts say still no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause cancer, Feb. 8, 2023, COVID-19 Vaccines Have Not Been Shown to Cause ‘Turbo Cancer’, Aug. 21, 2023 

AFP, Paper does not prove Pfizer mRNA vaccine causes 'turbo cancer,' July 21, 2023

Reuters, No evidence COVID-19 vaccines cause ‘turbo cancer,’ Dec. 14, 2022

ScienceDirect, Immortalised Cell Line, accessed Feb. 28, 2024

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No proof a study found lab-grown meat funded by Bill Gates causes 'turbo cancer'

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