Taking Food Safety to a New Level

Friday, December 9, 2016
By: Dana Sargent, Bayer, Global Head of Regulatory Toxicology
Taking Food Safety to a New Level

The demand for safe, affordable and sustainable food has never been more prevalent in our society than it is today, and this will only increase as people want more information about how their food is produced. As a mother of two and a scientist with over 25 years of regulatory, toxicology and risk assessment experience, I want to share with you my perspective on the safety behind crop protection products and the evolving science of toxicology. I hope to offer you new insights into how Bayer is committed to food and environmental safety.


Dana Sargent is the global head of Regulatory Toxicology at Bayer
Dana Sargent is the global head of Regulatory Toxicology at Bayer and has a B.S. in Toxicology and an M.S. in Environmental Science and served in the Army National Guard for 20 years.

I have a highly dedicated team of scientists that use all of the latest technologies in toxicology to thoroughly test and evaluate the human safety of Bayer’s crop protection products. The science of toxicology (studying the toxic properties of a chemical) has been around for hundreds of years, but in the last decade we have made huge leaps in how we test chemicals and in our ability assess their safety. Toxicology in the 21st century, or what we toxicologists call Tox21, uses everything from computer modelling, machine learning, 3-D imaging, human cell cultures and more classic animal models to better inform our selection of safe and effective products. I and thousands of other dedicated, passionate fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles working for Bayer are all progressing toward creating products that ensure children will inherit a world that is getting cleaner, is more sustainable, and that they can look forward to being able to have safe, affordable food for them and their children.


“Children will inherit a world that is getting cleaner, is more sustainable, and that they can look forward to being able to have safe, affordable food for them and their children.”

My team and I commit to developing safe products and testing them thoroughly; but our commitment goes deeper. Regulatory toxicology works with scientists across Bayer to follow the whole life cycle of our products, to make sure that they are manufactured safely; that when growers use our products, they understand the label and know how to use the product correctly; and that the food they grow using our products is safe to consume.


Did you know that it takes an average of 10 years and a budget of over 250 million dollars to develop a new active ingredient leading to a crop protection product? Only one out of 140,000 potential candidates makes it onto the market. Crop protection products undergo the most testing of any chemical produced. More than pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, or other chemicals you use in your daily life, and they must meet the highest safety standards in the world in order to be registered for use. We continue to look for chemicals that are not a risk to human health, are effective when applied correctly, while leaving little or no potential residues. In the EU alone, more than 80,000 food samples are tested every year. The results speak for themselves: 97.4 percent of all samples in the most recent trials in 2013 came in below the legal maximum residue level; more than 50 percent showed no residues at all (2013 European Union Report).


Diane Allemang presenting a thank you gift to Sargent for her service Dana Sargent with her daughter when they relocated to Germany
Diane Allemang presenting a thank you gift to Sargent for her service on CropLife's Strategic Oversight Council (SOC).
Sargent with her 16-year-old daughter when they relocated to Germany.

Ultimately, we have to find ways to communicate the quality and benefits of what we do, the safety of our products, and how hard we work to bring innovations that are environmentally sound, safe for use, and provide the grower with the best technology in agriculture. We’ve always brought sound science, but now we must also focus on communication and transparency.


I am excited to be a part of this amazing field as it improves and changes because it brings valuable products and innovation to consumers. In order for us to be sustainable in the future with a growing population, we have to have more than one tool and more than one way of growing food, and so it’s really important that we continue to have innovation around conventional farming.


If you have any questions regarding toxicology or the work I do at Bayer, please leave a comment below or reach out to us on Twitter @Bayer4CropsUS.


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