26 November 1999

Eco-friendly surfactants safety first

ROUNDUP Biactive could meet stiff competition if a novel eco-friendly surfactant is adopted by generic glyphosate manufacturers. Greater crop safety is also claimed, offering the prospect of minimal yield drag when used in genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops.

Like the additive used in Roundup Biactive, Hamposyl from Dows US subsidiary Hampshire Chemical Corporation, is significantly less toxic to the environment, says the companys Barry Cullen.

Based on a sarcosinate compound similar to those used in toothpastes and shampoos, it improves plant uptake of glyphosate, without the operator or environmental risks posed by tallow amine alternatives.

"Glyphosate alone has very, very low toxicity. It is the adjuvant that goes with it that causes the damage," says Mr Cullen. US tests show traditional Roundup formulations kill rainbow trout at just 7.5ppm, compared with 400ppm for the Hamposyl version.

Hamposyl is being offered to Monsanto and generic glyphosate makers. But another option is an own-brand green glyphosate product.

As part of an anti-competitive trading deal Monsanto is to supply Hampshires parent company Dow with glyphosate for worldwide marketing, including use on Roundup Ready GM crops. &#42