Monsanto planning switch from tallowmine-based surfactant

Monsanto is moving away from tallowmine in glyphosate products - a surfactant that is added to glyphosate-based herbicides to boost their efficacy.

The French Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety Agency is planning to ban herbicides such as Roundup that combine glyphosate and tallowamine, saying the mix brings bigger risks compared to glyphosate on its own.

Glyphosate is undergoing a re-registration process in Europe.

Monsanto said: "Based on what has been a political debate in Europe, we have already been preparing for a gradual transition away from tallowamine to other types of surfactants for commercial reasons. In this context, such an intention by France would not come as a surprise.

"Importantly, tallowamine-based products do not pose an imminent risk for human health when used according to instructions. In a 2009 review of toxicological data on tallowamine, the US EPA found no evidence that tallowamines are neurotoxic, mutagenic or clastogenic.

"In the coming weeks, we look forward to more fully understanding the agency’s concerns and intentions and providing scientific information. Meanwhile, we will accelerate the transition of our formulations that has already been underway and comply with the agency’s final decision. We are confident that we have a diverse product portfolio that will continue to meet the needs of all of our customers in France. As a result, the commercial impact of such a decision would be minimal.

"Surfactants such as tallowamines are soapy substances that help to reduce surface tension of the water. Surfactants are found in many everyday products such as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, detergent and many other cleaning products. A surfactant improves the delivery of a herbicide into the targeted weed by enabling the herbicide to stick to the weed leaves, instead of rolling off and onto the soil."

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