The briefing, which points to the rise of ‘Superbugs’ resistant to medical antibiotics as a threat to both human health and portfolio value, has been published by Aviva Investors, the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics and the FAIRR (Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return) Initiative.
FAIRR has also reported progress on a major engagement with large food companies on the issue of overreliance on antibiotics in farming. In April an investor coalition managing assets of more than $1 trillion called for an end to the routine use of antibiotics important to human health in their global meat and poultry supply chains.
Just over six months after the public launch of this initiative, coordinated in partnership with responsible investment charity ShareAction, FAIRR reports:
- The Restaurant Group (including brands such as Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkel’s) has committed to take steps to phase out the routine, preventative use of antibiotics in their supply chain and to refine its use of antibiotics classed as ‘critically important’ by the World Health Organization.
- More than half of the companies approached by the investor group report that their usage of antibiotics is under review or they are considering changes. All companies approached by the investors responded.
- However, the vast majority of corporate farm antibiotic use policies are either piecemeal or unambitious in their scope, with many company responses failing to address the specific concerns outlined by the investor coalition.
Debbie Hewitt, Chairman of The Restaurant Group said: “I am pleased to announce the steps that The Restaurant Group will be taking to reduce and refine antibiotic use in our meat supply chains. Rising concern from consumers and the investment community must be met with concerted efforts from all stakeholders to tackle the antibiotic resistance crisis. The foodservice sector must now play its part and act to protect public health.”
The Superbugs and Super Risks briefing released today warns:
- There are at least 700,000 deaths globally due to antibiotic resistant infections each year, which if not addressed could rise to 10 million deaths by 2050.
- Levels of drug-resistant infections could cost the world $100 trillion in lost output between now and 2050, more than the entire value of the current global economy. The World Health Organization estimates that in the EU alone, the issue is already costing more than $1.5 billion in healthcare expenses and productivity losses.
- A changing regulatory landscape poses a major risk to investors. For example, European legislative reviews to the Veterinary Medicinal Products and Medicated Feed Regulations may lead to a ban of the routine prophylactic administration of antibiotics to groups of animals. Some bans on antibiotic use are already in place in Denmark and it is estimated that a similar ban in the US would cost pig producers more than $700 million.