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Destroyed Dutch constructing wasn’t factory owned by Bill Gates

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CLAIM: A “Bill Gates factory that produces lab-grown synthetic meat” burned down within the Netherlands.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. While a distribution center operated by a Dutch online grocery service was destroyed in a hearth within the eastern Netherlands, the power was not a factory that produced meat alternatives, nor was it owned or operated by Gates. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust invested within the e-grocer in 2021, however the trust is just not a controlling shareholder.

THE FACTS: As video spread widely online Monday of flames engulfing the constructing operated by the e-grocery company Picnic, false claims began to flow into misrepresenting the usage of the power and its connection to billionaire philanthropist Gates.

“Bill Gates factory that produces lab-grown synthetic meat burns down within the Netherlands,” read the caption on one video of the blaze that was posted to Facebook and viewed greater than 12,000 times.

The same false claim was repeated on Twitter, where one user shared a video of one other angle of the fireplace, writing, “Bill Gates factory that makes synthetic lab grown meat goes up in flames.” The post received greater than 7,000 shares and nearly 20,000 likes by Tuesday.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust invested within the e-grocer in 2021, however the trust is just not a controlling shareholder.CBS via Getty Images

But each posts mischaracterize Gates’ relationship to the corporate and misidentify what the constructing was used for.

The ability that burned down on Sunday night was a distribution center operated by Picnic, a Dutch online grocery service founded in 2015 that permits users to order groceries using a mobile app and have them delivered.

The constructing was not a factory that produced meat alternatives and was not used for any type of production, Martijn Koolhoven, a public relations official representing Picnic, told The Associated Press in an email. The middle that caught fire was used to load orders onto electric trucks for delivery, he added, calling the recent claims “false.” He said there was no production of any kind at the location “let alone of meat.”

Picnic in 2021 raised 600 million euros to expand its operations across Europe, in keeping with a news release from the corporate. A big portion of that funding got here from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, Koolhoven said, adding that the trust was one investor amongst “many other existing shareholders” that contributed to the financing.

The trust, which invests and manages money, is separate from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic arm. The trust states on its website that its investment decisions are made by an outdoor team of managers.

“The endowment that funds the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is independently managed by a separate entity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust,” in keeping with an email statement from Cascade Investment, which oversees the Foundation Trust. “Foundation staff haven’t any influence on Trust investment decisions, and no visibility into the Trust’s investment strategies.”

Employee at PicnicPicnic in 2021 raised 600 million euros to expand its operations across Europe.ANP/AFP via Getty Images

And while the trust acquired a minority stake in Picnic through its investment, it “is just not a controlling shareholder,” Koolhoven clarified. Neither Gates, nor the trust, own or operate Picnic.

Fire crews in Almelo responded to the “very large” blaze on the distribution center late Sunday, in keeping with a statement in Dutch from the local fire brigade. Officials said the fireplace completely destroyed the constructing, but no injuries were reported. The reason behind the fireplace was not yet known and was still being investigated, in keeping with the agency’s statement.

The false claims in regards to the blaze emerged amid ongoing protests by 1000’s of farmers within the Netherlands, demonstrating against the federal government’s plans to slash emissions that livestock produce of their waste. Through the demonstrations, some protesters blocked supermarket distribution centers, including separate ones operated by Picnic, Koolhoven added.

Old, misrepresented photos and video purporting to indicate such demonstrations have also been shared and debunked in recent days.

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