Nightly News | September 20, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: whether to allow genetically engineered salmon to be sold in stores for human consumption, the first time such a move has been considered. And even though the industry and FDA scientists say it's safe, critics are not convinced. Our report on it tonight from NBC 's Tom Costello .
TOM COSTELLO reporting: At a fish farm in Canada , scientists are turning these tiny Atlantic salmon eggs into a sort of super fish, injecting them with a growth hormone from Chinook salmon that causes them to grow twice as fast, meaning twice the harvest. The company, AquaBounty says the science can help relieve overfishing and put more salmon on dinner plates.
Mr. RONALD STOTISH (AquaBounty CEO): In terms of the appearance, the taste, the texture and the biology, the salmon is the same.
COSTELLO: But consumer health and environmental groups have dubbed the salmon "frankenfish." And Ben Jerry 's ice cream has launched a "Something's Fishy" campaign against the salmon and any genetically altered animals for consumption.
Mr. JOSTEIN SOLHEIM Today , it's a fish we're talking about, but very soon it will be a genetically engineered pig, a chicken.
COSTELLO: At a fish market in DC today, mixed reaction.
Ms. MARINA TAMARINA: Just common sense. I think it's not supposed to be healthy.
Mr. KEITH COMBS: Would I eat genetically enhanced food? We're already doing it in a lot of stuff we do now with processed foods.
COSTELLO: But since no one's ever eaten genetically engineered fish before, the concern is of the potential hidden dangers, especially since so many people have such violent allergic reactions to fish. FDA researchers have already determined the salmon is safe to eat, but the chief scientist at Consumers Union , which publishes Consumer Reports , today told the FDA it's relying on sloppy science.
Mr. MICHAEL HANSEN (Consumers Union): The basic point is is what little data there is there suggests that there could be an allergy problem, and allergies can be serious and life threatening.
COSTELLO: If the full FDA gives its go ahead, the salmon could be in America 's grocery stores within two years. Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.