WE need to have a basic rethink about the way we treat animals.

There are two main areas of concern in this country: meat production and medical research.

Both are necessary, but just how necessary?

Firstly, we eat far more meat than is good for us. Secondly, there are innumerable and perfectly practicable measures that would radically humanise the whole process, from farm to abattoir. As it is, the situation is totally unacceptable on moral or any other grounds.

As regards medical research, some experiments are no doubt justifiable. However, the fact is - as scientists themselves now acknowledge - animals are sentient beings, at least as capable as feeling pain as we are.

Only very compelling reasons indeed can therefore justify the infliction of major trauma on them.

Much so-called research does not satisfy this requirement.

Tony Kelly, Crook, Co Durham.