The EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy has denied US accusations that several European countries were making economic aid to developing countries contingent on whether they prohibit biotech crops, calling the accusations "immoral".

Earlier this month, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick launched a scathing attack on the EU for what he called its "luddite" and "immoral" moratorium on genetically modified crops. He also threatened to file a complaint with the WTO against the EU, as well as alleging links between the use of biotech crops and the EU's granting of aid.

Lamy denied that there was any such link: "The fact that (Zoellick) made this link is very simply immoral," he was quoted by Dow Jones International News as saying. "Using the starvation in some countries to accuse the EU of being luddite is purely and simply unacceptable."

Lamy then launched a counter attack, accusing the US of using its foreign aid programme as a means to "dispose of its genetically modified crop surpluses."

"The simple solution is for the US to behave as a real aid donor," he said.

The commissioner said that by contrast the EU buys its food aid from the region it is trying to help, and leaves the decision on whether that will include or exclude biotech crops to the recipient country.

"If a country wants genetically modified organisms, it can buy genetically modified organisms," Lamy said.

The EU has come under fire from the US over its biotech policy after Zambia refused to accept the US's GM food aid. The famished African country refused to accept aid that may have included genetically modified crops due to fears the crops may contaminate its non-GM crops and thereby jeopardise exports to areas such as the EU.