Candidates' vow to ban animal research worrying
I was disappointed to learn that local parliamentary candidates Naomi Long, Neil Wilson, Paula Bradshaw and Ross Brown have pledged to ban several important areas of medical as well as veterinary research using animals.
This is the work which gave us antibiotics, anaesthetics, asthma and blood pressure medicines, for instance, alongside practically all our other medicines for conditions like cancer and diabetes.
It is also the work that will be necessary if we are to find cures for conditions like muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Understandably, the scientific world has been extremely worried by this pledge, pointing out that vital medical, veterinary and environmental research would be irrevocably damaged if they were to deliver upon it.
I also understand that veterinarians and medical research charities have written to the candidates to highlight the terrible real-world implications of the innocent sounding "vote cruelty-free" pledges.
Since 1986 it has been illegal to use an animal for research if there is a non-animal alternative available. And to be clear: this is not about using animals to test tobacco (which was banned in the UK in 1997), or cosmetic products, or their ingredients (banned in 1998), or household products (none conducted since 2011, with a ban from October 2015).
This is about the scientific research which is undertaken to benefit the voters and their pets, farm and wild animals and the environment.
Chief executive, Understanding Animal Research