Like most people, when I go to vote next may, the first thing I'll have in mind will probably not be the cure for dementia that could help my mother in 20 years' time, or the cure for autism that might help my child in years to come, or even the treatment for cancer that could save my life in 50 years' time.
Most passengers aboard Air France flights probably have no idea that in the cargo holds right beneath their feet could huddle dozens of terrified monkeys locked in small boxes and headed for nightmarish laboratories or that their ticket supported a company that is knowingly delivering these unfortunate primate passengers to laboratories...
Progress is urgently needed in understanding Alzheimer's disease and in finding effective treatments. Available drugs can help stabilise memory loss and confusion for a few months in about half of patients, but no preventative treatments exist and none that slow the inexorable development of the disease.
We want to see a debate framed in terms of what is happening now, not whether the use of animals led to a scientific discovery or progress eighty or a hundred years ago. Science, technology, and concern for animals have all evolved significantly since then, and the debate must too. Why is a specific animal 'model' or study thought relevant or valid now?
Next month, China is expected to implement the most significant change to its cosmetics testing regulations in more than 20 years - removal of mandatory animal testing for ordinary cosmetics manufactured within China. For the first time ever, Chinese companies will be able to choose to use a state-of-the-art non-animal test instead of a decades' old animal test.
If it takes an undercover investigation, a review by an independent committee of experts, 65,000 signatures on a petition and an ongoing Home Office inquiry to bring these shameful acts of cruelty in one of our most prestigious Universities to light what hope is there for animal welfare standards in laboratories across the country?
Instead of gambling our medicines -- and our lives -- upon these dismal stakes, scientists can make more meaningful predictions about the effectiveness of new therapies in humans and about their safety that are relevant to people in the real world, and intercept the progression of disease before a patient even receives their diagnosis.
The name makes it sound as if these statements, which Members of Parliament can put their names to in support, lie at the foothills of some sort of legislative process, sparking debates and justifying Parliamentary scrutiny. In fact, the process begins and ends with MPs sending a letter to the Vote Office, where their name will be added to a list. They are essentially meaningless.
On 16 July, the Home Office released statistics regarding the types of 4.11 million scientific procedures on other animals used in 2012, which again show an increase compared to 2011 figures. The Vegan Society is deeply worried about this trend and the assumed effectiveness of animal research that exists among many scientists and parliamentarians.
One criticism of World Day for Laboratory Animals, is that protest groups tend to paint a very one-sided picture of animal research and are rather selective in their reporting. The picture below, for instance, originates from 1970s America, yet is still used today. Not representative, not this country, not even this century.
Chris Magee writes in the Huffington Post "We all agree" that the European ban on animal testing for cosmetics is "fantastic news" that has been "a long time coming", but that the research community parts company with animal protection campaigns that seek to end animal testing for veterinary and medical uses.
Every life scientist is standing on the shoulders of the previous generation. As we make ever greater inroads to understanding the functioning of living bodies, we should remember that, just because the utility of a piece of knowledge is not yet clear, doesn't mean the process of obtaining that knowledge can be considered a waste of time.