Fact Check: Video Claiming To Show Genetically Modified Tomato And Grain Swimming In Water Originated On Channel That Uses CGI Effects

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich
Fact Check: Video Claiming To Show Genetically Modified Tomato And Grain Swimming In Water Originated On Channel That Uses CGI Effects Visual Tricks

Does a video on social media genuinely show genetically modified tomatoes and grain swimming in water? No, that's not true: The videos shared on TikTok originated from a YouTube channel that says it creates videos using "CGI effects" and that such clips are for "entertainment only." There is no indication in the video whether the items shown are real or where they came from. A professor of horticultural sciences told Lead Stories that no genetically engineered tomatoes or wheat are available in the U.S. at the time of this writing.

A version of this claim originated in a video on TikTok on August 18, 2023 (archived here), that claimed to show the difference between "organic and natural" products and those created through genetic modification. A text overlay with the post read:

My people!! Time to Cleanse!!

This is how the post appeared at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-06-26 at 6.43.24 AM.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot Wed June 26 06:43:24 UTC 2024)

Kevin Folta (archived here), a professor of horticultural science at the University of Florida, told Lead Stories that, as of this writing, there are "no genetically engineered tomatoes on the market" in the U.S. Similarly, there is no genetically engineered wheat, except some cultivation in Argentina (archived here).

The "fish gene" claim is "an old trope that came from experiments to help stop tomatoes and strawberries from freezing using a gene from an arctic flounder," wrote Folta in an email received on June 27, 2024.

"It didn't work," he said, adding that the product never came "close to commercialization."

Lead Stories determined through a reverse image search (archived here) that the clip shared in the post on TikTok was taken from the YouTube channel Viral Video Lab. That channel's "About" section (archived here) states that it "is about videos that seem too impossible to be real," some of which are created using "CGI effects." These videos, the channel states, are for "entertainment only." The description continues:

In addition, the videos shown on the channel may contain CGI effects and it may therefore happen that the content of some videos does not correspond to reality. Some videos on this channel do not use any effects.

Both videos show evidence of editing. For example, no ripples surround the supposedly swimming tomato and wheat as they move through the water.

The top part of the video on TikTok included clips from the video titled, "GMO Genetically Modified Wheat Swims when in contact with water!" which was posted on July 16, 2023 (archived here). A caption with the video read:

This weekend we discovered a really strange phenomenon. If you put a GMO Genetically Modified Wheat Ear in Water, it starts to swim. The ear of wheat was freshly picked from a wheat field where genetically modified grain is grown.

The bottom part of the video on TikTok included clips from the video titled, "Watch GMO Tomato Swim in Saltwater - The Fish Gene Effect Exposed!" that claims to show a genetically modified tomato swimming in saltwater because of a "fish gene effect." It was posted on July 21, 2023. A caption that accompanied the video read:

See what happens when you put a piece of a GMO tomato from the supermarket in salt water! This is why I don´t eat tomatos from the supermarket anymore!

Lead Stories contacted Viral Video Lab through their website (archived here), which sells products related to the YouTube channel. If a response is received, this fact check will be updated.

In an email received on June 27, 2024, the Food and Drug Administration referred Lead Stories to this informational page (archived here) for more information on GMO food products.

At the time this was written, Full Fact had reviewed the same claim.

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  Madison Dapcevich

Raised on an island in southeast Alaska, Madison grew up a perpetually curious tidepooler and has used that love of science and innovation in her now full-time role as a science reporter for the fact-checking publication Lead Stories.

Read more about or contact Madison Dapcevich

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