SIR – Mrs Marilyn Brown, presumably referring to my own recent letters defending medical testing on non-human animals, writes (August 26) that she is in “despair” to see these arguments. She says she can only assume that the defence of animal testing is made by people “without compassion and/or ignorant of the appalling suffering of millions of sentient beings each year.”

Surely, Mrs Brown cannot be unaware that suffering human beings are also suffering sentient beings?

I specifically defended medical testing on nonhuman animals on the grounds that it helps to alleviate or end the appalling suffering of millions of human beings each year.

As horrible as it may be to inflict suffering on a small number (relative to the people who benefit) of non-human animals through our actions, this is surely better than leaving many more human beings to endure much greater suffering through our inaction.

To question the empathy, or lack of it, to be found in those debating this issue, is not to address the issue itself.

It is head-in-the-sand ignorance, let alone insulting, whichever side of the argument you are on, to try and paint this image that anyone who disagrees with you over vivisection is “without compassion and/or ignorant”.

Disagree by all means, but the pro-vivisection argument is deeply routed in a mature, consequentialist ethics, and is empowered at every stage by compassion for the suffering of others.