I FEEL that Philip Beaven's letter on animal experiments (SA May 25) should not be allowed to go unchallenged.

He states that animals are "tortured and killed in useless experiments."

The conditions in which animals are kept in laboratories are subject to regular (and unannounced) inspections, and the experiments have to be approved by independent ethical committees.

No animal is "tortured" in such experiments which are far from "useless."

Without such animal experiments many modern medical treatments could not have been developed notably heart operations, transplant surgery and the treatment of diabetes.

Furthermore, the "good people" (his words) who succeeded in closing down the guinea pig farm were not prosecuted and imprisoned "because the wanted to stop animal cruelty."

They were convicted and sentenced by a court (independent of Government) for illegal acts such as threatening behaviour, criminal damage and stealing a human body from a grave.

I respect those who hold genuine beliefs against vivisection even though I disagree with them.

But no one should condone the illegal acts performed by extremists who are prepared to be cruel to other human beings for humans belong to the animal kingdom, too!

MCT Morrison FRCS.

Retired Surgeon.