THANK you Harry Mead for the article on modern animal farming practices, "Surely this is farming Auschwitz", (Echo, Feb 14).

Over the past 50 years, most farming has been transformed into modern "agribusiness", controlled by large, often international, companies motivated to make as much profit as possible.

Animals are no longer viewed and treated as individual beings, but as units of production - egg, milk or meat-producing machines. The products have become cheaper - with the animals paying a price for increased efficiency.

Most of today's farmed animals never see the light of day, spending their entire lives in cages, stalls or huge, windowless sheds where they can barely move.

Forcing stressed animals with impeded health and immune systems to try to survive cramped and unhygienic conditions creates the perfect breeding ground for diseases.

Little wonder that links are increasingly being made between the global factory farming industry and the spread of bird flu.

Consumers can help by refusing to buy factory farmed animal products and by reducing or cutting animal products from their diet. In addition, governments need to reassess modern intensive animal production practices and encourage farmers to move towards more sustainable methods - for the good of animal welfare, the environment and human health. - Ross Minett, Director, Advocates for Animals, Edinburgh.

HARRY Mead's article, "Surely this is farming Auschwitz"

(Echo, Feb 14), poses a question that we either want a better world or we don't.

Throughout our history we have glorified our own intelligence, even to the point of suggesting we are the chosen species of the creator. So that makes us above the law of what creation intended and in my opinion a dismal failure.

Harry Mead is correct when he points out that what is happening at the Bernard Matthews' turkey farms and other cases of animal exploitation, but the exploitation of the animal has been our trademark for far longer than the modern farming methods.

Today's methods simply highlight how evil a species we have become and any suggestions we have been anything else is hypocrisy.

Whether we can change our ways is doubtful, and whether our existence on this planet can ever be sustained must be very questionable.

Does not the fact that such treatment of other species of life not indicate the fact that "life is cheap" and such an indictment is the cause of the way we kill each other? One is inextricably linked to the other and by changing one we can change the other. - John Young, Crook, Co Durham.