Baby formula shortage not because of donation to Ukraine

  • Infant formula is stacked on a table during a baby formula drive this month in Houston to help with the shortage. Social media users have posted misleading claims that the U.S. government is shipping formula to Ukraine.

    Infant formula is stacked on a table during a baby formula drive this month in Houston to help with the shortage. Social media users have posted misleading claims that the U.S. government is shipping formula to Ukraine. Associated Press File Photo

  • A worker passes a Dominion Voting Systems ballot scanner at a polling location in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in January 2021. False claims are circulation on social media suggesting that Dominion lost its lawsuits against attorney Sidney Powell and former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

    A worker passes a Dominion Voting Systems ballot scanner at a polling location in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in January 2021. False claims are circulation on social media suggesting that Dominion lost its lawsuits against attorney Sidney Powell and former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Associated Press File Photo

 
Updated 5/21/2022 5:02 PM

Recent social media posts appear to suggest the current baby formula shortage in the U.S. was caused by aid to Ukraine.

A May 12 Facebook post shows side-by-side images of news reports. A photo on the left includes cans of formula under the headline, "Operation Ukraine boxes baby formula to send overseas," dated March 7, 2022. The photo next to it, dated May 12, 2022, shows empty shelves under the headline, "Baby formula shortage hits parts of US."

 

Many of the comments on the post claim the U.S. government created the shortage.

But the comparison is deceiving, according to PolitiFact. There is no evidence this donation to Ukraine has any connection to the formula shortage.

The donation was organized by Columbus, Mississippi-based nonprofit Operation Ukraine, not the U.S. government. The group began gathering $10,000 worth of baby formula in March after Russia invaded Ukraine.

"We'll be providing supplies to both refugees and people who are still in Ukraine," Operation Ukraine founder Kathy Cadden told The Dispatch.

The formula shortage has been attributed to supply chain delays, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and a decrease in the workforce. Additionally, a recall of some baby formula caused a manufacturing plant to shut down.

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The $10,000 of baby formula collected by Operation Ukraine, at nearly $30 per 21-ounce can, is only about 333 cans. Not enough to have an effect on the U.S. shortage, PolitiFact said.

Virus is not snake venom

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been fake news about the origin, treatment and effects of the coronavirus. But a recent social media post claims it isn't a virus at all.

"Corona was NEVER a virus. (It) is Cobra venom," reads a recent Facebook post circulating online.

This claim is "nonsense," according to USA Today. The post is based on a video that said the COVID-19 is caused by snake venom contracted through drinking water, vaccines and treatments.

Scientists have determined COVID-19 is caused by a virus spread from person to person. The ingredients in the vaccines are all available to the public.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Yes, it's a virus," Dr. Frank LoVecchio, medical director of Arizona State University's College of Health Solutions, told USA Today. "(The snake venom claim is) not consistent with any medical knowledge, any medical fact, any medical journal."

The false claim comes from a video titled "Watch the Water," an anti-vaccine film that said evil forces are spreading a synthetic version of snake venom to "make you a hybrid of Satan," according to PolitiFact.

Lawsuits continue on Powell, Giuliani

Dominion Voting Systems, in January 2021, filed defamation lawsuits against attorney Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer for former President Donald Trump.

Dominion claimed the two attorneys made false claims that the organization's voting machines used in the 2020 presidential election were rigged in favor of the winner, President Joe Biden.

Some social media users claim the case has ended.

"ABSENT from the News, Dominion LOST their law suits against Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell," read a recent tweet that was shared more than 18,000 times.

But this claim is false, according to the Associated Press. The lawsuits are ongoing. Dominion is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages from both Giuliani and Powell.

Attorneys for Giuliani and Powell have asked for the case to be dismissed but a judge denied the request.

This same false claim circulated on social media a year ago, and was debunked then.

Bibles are allowed in schools

Religious freedom has been an issue in the U.S. since the beginning, and social media hasn't made it any clearer. Recent posts make claims about the Bible.

"Bibles aren't allowed in schools anymore but are encouraged in prison. If kids were allowed to read it at school, they may not end up in prison," reads a Facebook post from last month.

But that's not accurate, according to USA Today. Students can have a Bible in school.

"Students would always be allowed to personally possess Bibles in public or private schools. Many private schools in America are religious, anyway, so it obviously would not be a problem in that context," Baylor University religious studies professor Thomas Kidd told USA Today.

Students in public schools can read from the Bible or study religion but "teachers cannot compel their students to read from the Bible devotionally," Stanford University professor Ari Kelman told USA Today.

Prisoners can also read from a Bible but they aren't "encouraged" to do so.

"Individuals have freedom of religious exercise," Terry Shoemaker, a member of the religious studies department at Arizona State University, told USA Today.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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