UPDATE 1-China approves first Argentine GMO corn cargo-sources
(Adds trader quote, corn market context)
BUENOS AIRES, Aug 6 (Reuters) - China has approved its first shipment of genetically modified Argentine corn, trade sources said on Tuesday, signaling that the commodity-hungry Asian nation may import controversial GMO crops from other producers like the United States.
A 60,000-tonne shipment of GMO corn has been cleared by Chinese portside health authorities and is on its way to its final customers, said three Buenos Aires-based grains trading sources with knowledge of the situation.
The corn was imported by China's state-owned trading house COFCO and left Argentina about a month ago, the sources said.
"The cargo has been approved by the AQSIQ and the vessel has been discharged in China. The corn is officially imported and on its way to end customers," said a source at a major trading company in Buenos Aires, asking not to be named.
There had been questions over whether the cargo would pass muster with AQSIQ, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
Chicago Board of Trade corn prices have fallen sharply from record highs last summer, and many analysts and traders expected prices to fall further. In contrast to last year, the world is expected to be awash with corn for the foreseeable future, keeping prices in check.
China is seen by corn futures traders as a wild card in their attempt to pencil in specific price projections.
Most Argentine corn is genetically modified. A small amount was allowed into China late last year as a test case under a China-Argentina GMO deal signed in February 2012.
There is broad scientific consensus that food on the market derived from genetically modified crops pose no greater risk than conventional food. However, advocacy groups argue the risks of GMO food have not been adequately identified.
(Additional reporting by Sam Nelson in Chicago; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Jeffrey Benkoe)