Sir – Although the principle of treating animals with respect and kindness is admirable, I think that animal rights activists objecting to the Oxford animal lab need to take a reality check.

As omnivores most of us eat slaughtered animals on a regular basis. Pests such as rats are poisoned and condemned to an unpleasant death without sentiment. Environments are destroyed and whole species are driven to extinction with comparatively little fuss. Yet when scientists conduct research on animals in a controlled environment in order to advance medical knowledge and alleviate human suffering, everyone gets in a state.

If animal rights activists want to stop cruelty, why don’t they direct their energies toward the many humans in our world who are unloved, starved and tortured. They can then let our noble scientists get on with their important work uninterrupted.

Daniel Emlyn-Jones, Oxford