Is the same RNA technology found in COVID-19 shots now being added to chicken feed, causing the poultry that eats it to have fertility problems? No, that's not true: "Commercial feed manufacturers are not adding RNA to chicken feed," a spokesperson for the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association told Lead Stories. Amid an avian flu outbreak that has resulted in the loss of tens of millions of birds, a University of Nebraska School of Veterinary Medicine professor called the assertion about RNA additives for chicken feed "fake news."
The claim appeared in a video on Facebook Reels (archived here) on January 29, 2023, under the title "Eggs." The narrator says:
Let's talk about eggs and why there's a massive shortage and a massive increase in pricing. The RNA technology -- you know, the same technology that is in the jab -- is now in a lot of chicken feed. You can find this very easily online. And, unfortunately, many farmers aren't even aware of this change in their chicken feed. RNA technology is causing chickens to have fertility problems. And for your health safety, I wouldn't recommend eating those eggs anyways. So, if you're wanting to find both affordable and safe eggs, I highly suggest contacting a local farmer. Find out what they feed their chickens; preferably grass or grain-fed grain that they make so they know exactly what's in it, and buy from them. Stop buying eggs way overpriced from the grocery store. Most of these eggs come from mass-production farms anyways. And these farms will most definitely be using the chicken feed that has the RNA technology in it.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Feb 2 15:46:38 2023 UTC)
The narrator of the video, which also appeared on TikTok, provides no evidence to back her claims, made to an antivaccine or vaccine-hesitant audience that is suspicious of COVID mRNA vaccines. The narrator also seeks to explain why egg prices surged in 2022 and continued to increase into 2023.
Gwen Venable, executive vice president of communications for the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, told Lead Stories in a February 2, 2023, email, "Commercial feed manufacturers are not adding RNA to chicken feed. RNA is part of the chicken's natural biology."
A spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates chicken feed, echoed the response of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association about RNA technology being added to food for chickens, saying in a February 2, 2023, email to Lead Stories:
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is one of the building blocks of life and is present in all living cells, including the cells of people, animals and plants. RNA is not on its own a feed additive.
David Steffen, a professor and pathologist at the University of Nebraska School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, expanded on the FDA's explanation in a February 2, 2023, email to Lead Stories. He said:
Chickens have always used mRNA like all other living creatures. mRNA is the signal from the DNA of the nucleus to ribosomes in the cytoplasm where proteins are produced. There are no approved RNA products for poultry so this is fake news.
Feed grains are fine, chickens perform well and seem to enjoy eating. If there was a problem with consumption or health, farmers would complain first. Farmers care about and care for their animals.
The American Feed Industry Association also rejected the claim of supposed RNA additives for chicken feed. In a February 2, 2023, email to Lead Stories, Lacie Dotterweich, the AFIA's communications and social media manager, said:
RNA 'as an ingredient' is not fed to chickens. RNA is present in all living things, from plants to animals to humans, and it is not an ingredient that is fed to animals to alter their production.
She added that feed grains go through a rigorous process before they can be fed to animals, which will ultimately be eaten by people:
The U.S. animal food industry is regulated by states and the Food and Drug Administration, and more specifically under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FSMA impacts all involved in manufacturing of animal feed - from ingredient processors to animal food manufacturers. Compliance with FSMA requites two broad areas: adherence to Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) and the completion of a food safety plan, which must include a hazard analysis and implementation of preventive controls as necessary. All ingredients used in animal food need to be an approved food additive, generally recognized as safe or have an ingredient definition that reviews safety and efficacy of the products.
The video found on Facebook Reels strongly implies that RNA technology is to blame for the current U.S. shortage of eggs and their high price. But since RNA technology isn't used in chicken feed, there must be other reasons.
Don Reynolds, a professor and poultry veterinarian at the University of Nebraska School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said in a February 2, 2023, email that no connection exists between the claim made in the video and the high price of eggs. He added:
It is estimated that in 2022 over 43 million laying hens were lost (i.e., died) from avian influenza. This resulted in a shortage of laying hens and eggs. That is the major factor for increases in egg prices.
Fellow professor Steffen noted:
Eggs are high priced because of reduced numbers of birds related to Avian Flu and increased transportation costs
and energy-related overhead costs ... .
Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims about mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination can be found here.