OXFORD - BASF AG last week revealed its plan to become a major player in the development of agricultural biotechnology.

BASF has been considered by many in the agbio market to be a technology "have not" (see BioCentury Oct. 12, 1998). But Friedrich Vogel, head of BASF's Crop Protection Division, last week unveiled plans to acquire 40 percent of the share capital of Svalof Weibull AB, a major European seeds and plant breeding company with sales in excess of DM257 million ($425 million) in 1997. While other crop protection chemical companies have invested billions of dollars buying seed companies, this deal represent BASF's first acquisition of a seeds company.