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Food Bullying Podcast

Feb 19, 2024

“The biggest misconception about my work is that agriculture companies place pesticides or biotech products on the market without testing them for safety. The fact is that agriculture is one of the most strictly regulated and thoroughly investigated industries in the world. Agriculture companies must strictly follow local and international regulatory guidelines and conduct hundreds of safety studies before launching a product.

When a consumer has safety questions about pesticide residues or GMOs in their food, I hope all dietitians are well-equipped with knowledge about the agriculture regulatory processes, and help consumers make evidence-based food decisions.”

Dr. Meng Wang is the Transparency Lead at Bayer Crop Science. She makes the safety data of their products available and understandable to the public. On a personal note, food is her love language and she loves talking about food!  Wang puts this passion to use in creating artisan macarons, which Michele reports they taste as good as they look.

Meng discussed the importance of transparency in making product safety data available to the public. She mentioned that about five years ago, they realized the public's interest in knowing if their food is safe and understanding how it's produced. As part of the transparency program, they decided to make safety data more accessible to the general public.

Bringing a new chemistry, such as a pesticide, to market typically takes around 11 years and costs approximately $300 million. This lengthy process involves conducting rigorous safety studies to ensure the product's safety for humans, animals, and the environment when used as directed.

Researching and approving a new genetically modified (GM) crop product takes approximately 16 years on average. This process involves extensive development and testing to ensure the product's safety, efficacy, and compliance with regulatory standards. The cost of bringing a GM crop to market is around $150 million. It's important to note that these timelines and costs may vary depending on the specific product and regulatory requirements.

Bayer Crop Science Crop Science creates new pesticides and genetically modified (GM)/bioengineered products to address the challenges faced by farmers – and to contribute to food security, sustainability, and productivity.

A growing global population brings a need to increase agricultural productivity, while also taking care of the environment. Bayer Crop Science Crop Science listens to the needs of farmers and develops products that can help them be more productive and address food security concerns. The development of new products involves significant investment and rigorous safety testing to ensure they are safe for humans, animals, and the environment. The goal is to provide innovative solutions that benefit farmers and contribute to a more sustainable and secure food supply.


Transparency, as explained by Meng, refers to the practice of making safety data and information about agriculture products available to the general public. In the past, safety data was primarily shared with regulatory authorities for approval purposes. However, with increasing public interest in understanding the safety and origins of their food, Bayer Crop Science recognized the importance of transparency. They believe that transparency allows consumers to make informed decisions and builds trust in the agricultural industry. By making safety data more accessible, Bayer Crop Science aims to address public concerns, promote understanding, and foster a more transparent and open dialogue about their products.

Transformational leadership, according to Dr. Meng Wang, involves inspiring and empowering people to reach their full potential. She believes in creating a culture where employees are motivated and encouraged to excel in their roles. Throughout her career, Dr. Wang has been fortunate to have managers and mentors who embraced this leadership style, allowing her to flourish in her work. For her, transformational leadership is not just a temporary initiative but should be ingrained in the company's culture. It involves empowering every employee to embody transparency and make it a part of their behavior.

Transparency, to Meng, means making safety data about agriculture products available to the general public. She believes that transparency is essential for addressing public concerns, promoting understanding, and building trust in the industry. Access to safety data empowers consumers to make informed decisions about the food they consume and to foster an open dialogue about their products.

Bayer Crop Science has taken steps to increase awareness and promote transparency among its employees. They have conducted learning sessions to educate colleagues about the importance of transparency and the unique knowledge they possess. They have also launched campaigns, such as the "#WhereisMeng" campaign, to engage employees and encourage them to learn more about transparency. Through these initiatives, Bayer Crop Science aims to foster a culture of transparency where every employee understands the significance of sharing information and representing the company's values.

Meng expressed excitement about the conversations she has had with people regarding food safety and transparency efforts. She mentioned engaging in discussions with her family, friends, and various audiences, including regulators, journalists, and the general public. These conversations and the opportunity to address concerns and provide information seem to be indicators of success for Meng in her transparency work.

Dr. Wang explained that product safety at Bayer Crop Science is thoroughly tested through a comprehensive process. The safety assessment starts from the very beginning, incorporating safety concepts into the product design. They conduct hundreds of safety studies to evaluate the safety profiles of pesticides, including their impact on humans, animals, and non-target species. They also perform robust environmental safety testing, such as studying the runoff and its effects on birds, mammals, and fish. The efficacy of the pesticide is also tested to ensure it can effectively protect crops. Dr. Wang emphasized that the safety assessment is data-driven and rooted in her science background as a biologist.

One common misconception she deals with is the belief that agricultural products on the market have not undergone rigorous safety testing. This misconception can impact people's choices when shopping for food. Dietitians can help dispel this misinformation by educating the public about the rigorous safety framework and procedures in place to ensure the safety of the products they buy. By providing accurate information, dietitians can help consumers make informed choices and support farmers in their practices to produce safe food.

For more information on Wang’s work, visit, and connect with Wang on LinkedIn

For more on pesticide levels in food, visit the WHO and use the Safe Fruits and Veggies calculator