April 24 (Reuters) - U.S. exporters last week shipped the most corn in at least 24 years, government data showed on Thursday, despite another round of canceled purchases by China tied to a banned variety of genetically-modified grain.
More than 1.6 million tonnes of corn was loaded for shipment during the week ended April 17 in the United States, the world's largest producer and exporter. That is the highest total in U.S. Department of Agriculture records dating to 1990.
A bulk of the grain was destined to major origins, such as Japan, Mexico and South Korea, as well as emerging buyers, including Colombia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Buyers in Asia and the Middle East have bought cargoes originally headed for China, but rejected after they were found to contain Syngenta AG's Agrisure Viptera, a GMO variety known as MIR 162 that the company applied for China's approval four years ago.
China last week canceled purchases of 54,000 tonnes of U.S. corn, adding to the total of more than 1 million tonnes of rejections since November and costing the U.S. agriculture industry billions of dollars in losses, according to the National Grain and Feed Association.
But port congestion in No. 2 corn exporter Brazil and political turmoil in No. 3 shipper Ukraine have led to increased buying from the United States.
Egypt typically can buy grain more cheaply from Ukraine out of the Black Sea, but the North African country is on track to import a record amount of U.S. corn, taking advantage of the deals axed by China.
Meanwhile, port workers in Brazil are busy loading record amounts of soybean exports, keeping the United States as the most dependable corn shipper.
"Brazil is too concentrated on exporting beans and they will be all the way until July. That should keep the U.S. export program (for corn) healthy," said Terry Reilly, analyst at Futures International in Chicago. (Reporting by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago, editing by G Crosse)