Global Investor Statement on Antibiotics Stewardship

2020 Investor Year of Action on Antimicrobial Resistance: Find out more

We, the undersigned investors, recognise the routine non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock production as a major risk to public health.

Worldwide, most antibiotics are used in farm animal production systems, often to promote growth and to prevent the spread of disease among animals housed in unsanitary conditions and in close confinement. In the US, an estimated 75% of antibiotics are being used on farm animals [1], 70% in the European Union (EU), and 45% in the UK [2]. This overuse of antibiotics in livestock production is recognised by the World Health Organisation as an important factor in the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) worldwide [3].

The global regulatory landscape is moving to phase out the routine non-therapeutic use, and consumers, civil society organisations and the media are increasingly scrutinising corporate practice on this issue. Companies that fail to act are likely to face significant impacts on their reputation and brand, threatening sales and profits [4].

Not only does AMR present a material risk for food companies, but it is also a systemic risk across multiple sectors, including the pharmaceutical, healthcare and insurance industries. Immediate action is required to preserve the efficacy of antibiotics against diseases in both humans and animals. We, therefore, view reform of the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock production as both necessary for public health, and essential for risk mitigation and long-term value creation. We also consider it material when evaluating a company’s prospects in line with our portfolios.

Thus, we support the establishment of a comprehensive antibiotics policy that includes clear timelines for phasing out routine, non-therapeutic use of antibiotics across all livestock, seafood and poultry supply chains. We enclose a best practice policy on antibiotics stewardship, which has been developed in consultation with leading industry and issue experts to provide guidance to food companies, including both meat producers and purchasers (such as retailers and restaurants), in the development of their individual policies.

This investor statement is coordinated by the FAIRR Initiative.