Investors to Big Ag: Stop Breeding Superbugs
An investor coalition bringing together more than $2 trillion in assets is speaking out against factory farming and using shareholder power to right the system. When I heard this coalition was gathering for an event in San Francisco – Superbugs & SuperRisks: The Investment Case for Action – I naturally had to attend and see what the FAIRR Initiative is all about. Here’s what I learned: 

There is a massive cost for our complacency around the chronic use of antibiotics in farm animals. 

Already, 2 million people in the U.S. contract antibiotic resistant pathogens every single year, and the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the CDC (just to name a few), have declared the growing resistance to antibiotics a global crisis
These are drugs whose effectiveness we absolutely must preserve – and they are a shared societal trust. That is, the more we use them, the faster we lose them. It is unacceptable for one group to harm the rest of the world by misusing this trust, for the sole sake of profit-making.

Still, right now, the vast majority – a whopping 80%, actually – of antibiotics purchased in the U.S. are being given to farm animals, which has a direct effect on their usefulness in fighting human disease. 
We’ve known about this since 1976. And yet, we’re still using a tremendous amount of these vitally important drugs irresponsibly.
Here’s where it gets interesting (and optimistic): It’s actually becoming profitable to do the right thing. That is, consumers are calling on companies to demand that their supply chains be antibiotic-free. Even McDonald’s has made a pledge to remove antibiotics from its foods! Backed by this swell in consumer demand, investors are pushing companies to do the right thing and stop putting short-term profits ahead of global health and long-term food-system success. 

FAIRR isn’t stopping at antibiotic resistance either––it’s trying to end this devastating system for good.  

With that, the pressure’s on. Investors are pulling their assets away from industrial animal farming and choosing to invest instead in sustainable alternatives such as plant-based and clean meat, and we can expect some dramatic shifts in protein production. FAIRR is leveraging tremendous resources to end factory farming and build a food system that is better for people, planet, and animals. 

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. 

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