ABC News Samples DNA-Altered Salmon

Jim Avila visits AquaBounty and notes no difference in taste.
3:18 | 12/04/12

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Transcript for ABC News Samples DNA-Altered Salmon
to see an exclusive look at something that may be approved by the government as safe to serve for dinner. It's a fish, but it's been changed. Genetically altered by scientists who made it grow bigger and grow faster than ever before. But is it safe to eat? Our jim avila traveled to a hidden sight in panama to uncover the secrets of this superfish. Reporter: Behind padlocked gates and barbed wire fences in panama grows what could be a landmark change in what we eat. Shades of "jurassic park" where movie scientists played with dinosaur dna. Here actual scientists grow a dna-altered salmon producing the first bioengineered meat on track to be approved for human consumption. Critics call the process creepy and label it frankenfish. When you move the dna from a species into another species, you create a new life form that's so new and so unique that you can get a patent for it. Reporter: Abc news is the first to see up close and actually taste this mysterious fish fda scientists have ruled is safe as food from the conventional atlantic salmon. This is clearly what they call frankenfish? These are very healthy beautiful atlantic salmon. Reporter: The big difference size. This is a one-year-old atlantic salmon dwarfed by the new genetically altered salmon of the same age. How do they do it? By merging the dna of three fish into one. Taking dna from a chinook salmon and a sea eel to produce an atlantic salmon that grows fast from birth. You get to market size at least 12 months before any other type of salmon that's out there. Reporter: Aquabounty says the fish are ready for market and the company now awaits final fda approval. But have we gone too far? It opens up a whole other section of the grocery store to this technology which we think is still not fully understood. Reporter: There is no proven link between genetically altered food and health problems. But critics are skeptical about aquabounty studies and complain government scientists have not done enough independent work and ignore the unknown. They worry but have no proof this new fish will increase allergies and theorize its altered hormone system could somehow cause cancer. The fda's review of company data found those concerns unfounded. Is this something I should be afraid of? Man has been altering the nature of animals since man walked upright and began domesticating animals. Reporter: A new lab created meat in the pipeline for fda approval that is at once very different and just the same as america's favorite dish for dinner. Same texture. Eating frankenfish. Please don't use that term. And jim avila with us now. So, jim, how soon could this be approved and in supermarkets? Reporter: Well, that's the latest mystery about this fish, diane. The fda just won't say. Its scientists approved it as safe two years ago. The company says they may go out of business before the fda actually approves it. And will there be a label on it? Is it required -- is it a requirement there be a label on it if it's in the supermarkets. If it is, it will not be labeled separately from farmed atlantic salmon so you will not know unless you buy organic or you buy a wild salmon. If you buy farm salmon and it's in your supermarket as farm salmon it could be this sh.

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