UPDATE 1-Argentina's Bioceres eyes 2020 approval of drought-resistant soybean seed in China

(Adds information on possible HB4 approval in China)

BUENOS AIRES, June 13 (Reuters) - Argentine biotechnology firm Bioceres SA hopes a soybean seed it is developing with drought-resistant proprieties receives approval within the next month in the United States and by the end of 2020 in China, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Argentina and Brazil have already approved the so-called HB4 seed variety. Argentina, Brazil and the United States are the largest soy producers in the world, while China is the largest importer, making approval there key for the expansion of Bioceres’ product.

Speaking to Reuters in an interview on Thursday, Bioceres CEO Frederico Trucco said that under optimistic projections, approval of HB4 in China could occur as soon as the end of this year.

When China approves the seed variety, “we will penetrate 15 to 25 percent of all soy acreage in Argentina (with HB4) in a period of three to five years,” he said.

According to Argentina’s Rosario Grains Exchange, 17.3 million hectares of land have been planted with soy in the current 2018-19 harvest, and production is expected to reach 56.5 million tonnes. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath; writing by Gram Slattery; editing by Susan Thomas and G Crosse)