ANIMAL experimentation in the UK is a deeply divisive issue, but the public discussion is not well served by misleading statements.

The National Anti-Vivisection Society mentions the “government pledge to reduce animal use” (Letters July 18) but neglects to mention that the number of animals used in research fell in 2013 – by no fewer than 15,552 animals.

The laws surrounding animal use in the UK are some of the strictest in the world. As the Home Office website states: “We have legislated so experimentation is only permitted when there is no alternative research technique and the expected benefits outweigh any possible adverse effects.”

Contrary to the dogs, monkeys and rabbits they mentioned in Jan Creamer’s letter, more than 98 per cent of research animals are mice, rats, fish and birds.

These animals are used, when there is no alternative, in medical, veterinary and environmental research, such as developing breast cancer treatments like Tamoxifen and Herceptin, or vaccines for humans and animals like the badger TB vaccine. Cosmetic testing is illegal in the UK.

Choosing to conduct animal research will always be a hard decision, but I believe we have a duty to do what we can to alleviate human and animal suffering, where this is possible.

Dr Elisabeth Harley, Understanding Animal Research, London