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Antimicrobial resistance in the food and agriculture sector

  • Date: 14/07/2022
  • Time: 3 - 4.00 pm (CEST)
  • Location: Online

In this webinar hosted by VBDO and World Animal Protection, experts on responsible investment, public health and animal welfare will discuss AMR and the food and agriculture sector, its effect on public health and biodiversity, what risks AMR poses to institutional investors and why animal welfare should have a pivotal role in activities on AMR.

AMR webinar key talking points

Professor Anthony So of the Johns Hopkings Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director at ReAct – Action on Antibiotic Resistance highlighted the human toll of 1.27 million deaths from drug-resistant bacterial infections a year and connected this with how antimicrobials used in the food system are critically important to tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR). He also highlighted the emerging science suggesting the potential environmental dimension of AMR. For investors, Dr. So emphasized the importance of taking a coordinated approach to AMR, from supporting smallholder farmers to reduce the need to use antibiotics to working with insurance programs to de-risk such changes. He proposed three areas of collaboration between investor groups and civil society and consumer groups: 1) generating market signals for food buyers to procure products raised without the routine use of antimicrobials; 2) incentivizing food producers to adopt practices less reliant on antimicrobial usage; and 3) sharing data, information, and market intelligence to help identify strategic opportunities to reshape the food value chain.

Teni Ekundare, Head of Investor Outreach at FAIRR Initiative, discussed the material investment risks associated with AMR and how investors can take collective action. She shared FAIRR’s experience with antimicrobial stewardship and collective action on AMR in the animal health industry, for example through the Investor Action on Antimicrobial Resistance initiative, and shared the framework developed by FAIRR to establish best practice for this industry.  Additionally, she elaborated on why it is important to extend activities to include the agricultural sector, specifically with regards to the global protein industry.

Columbia Threadneedle’s Managing Director and Responsible Investment Strategist Alice Evans further elaborated on the material business risks posed by AMR and stressed that taking action is not optional due to the financial, legislative, operational and reputational risks associated with AMR. She elaborated on using engagement to address this on both the pharmaceutical and food chain side.  She presented several case studies illustrating the opportunities and challenges encountered by Columbia Threadneedle’s engagement in different sectors.

Jennifer Black, World Animal Protection’s Head of Campaign, zoomed in on industrial livestock as an essential sector when addressing AMR and why animal welfare should play a pivotal role in this approach. She discussed how and why intensive livestock systems are often synonymous with low animal welfare standards, setting off a chain reaction which results in high antibiotics use. Through responsible stewardship on animal welfare in the livestock sector, for example by stimulating the use of the FARMS Initiative‘s Responsible Minimum Standards, antibiotics use and superbug breeding grounds can be reduced drastically. This is especially important as meat protein consumption and animal agriculture antibiotics use are predicted to grow, increasing the risk of transmission from farms to communities. She acknowledged the challenge posed by low transparency in the agribusiness supply chain and provided a first peak into World Animal Protection’s and the FARMS Initiative efforts to make information on the supply chain more accessible.

The webinar was concluded by a panel discussion, in which the speakers took questions from the audience and discussed AMR and how this should be addressed by institutional investors amongst each other.

Reports and research mentioned during the webinar:

This webinar has been made possible in collaboration with World Animal Protection. World Animal Protection is working with governments to ban the use of antimicrobials for group disease prevention or as a growth promoter; and with corporates to ensure that antibiotics are not being used routinely to prop up low welfare practices in their supply chains.

Collective engagement on AMR

Institutional investors interested in collective engagement on antimicrobial resistance, its consequences for public health and biodiversity, and animal welfare please contact Sara Heinsbroek.