This week is World Antibiotic Awareness Week and this year, antibiotic resistance is again a key focus. According to the World Health Organization, “antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.” The issue of antibiotic resistance is a public health crisis that infects at least 2 million people in the U.S. and kills at least 23,000 annually.
While there are many reasons for the growing emergence, persistence, and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or ‘Superbugs,’ the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in the agricultural industry is a major cause. This is hardly a surprise given that in the U.S., roughly 70% of antibiotics important to human medicine are sold for use on food animals, often for the non-therapeutic purposes of growth promotion and disease prevention in unsanitary factory farm conditions.
As part of our Sustainable Agriculture Program, we are addressing this issue by working with companies to curb the excessive and irresponsible use of antibiotics in meat supply chains. Through our shareholder advocacy program, we have successfully engaged companies such as Kroger* to work with its suppliers to reduce antibiotics in chicken products. Additionally, our non-profit partners have successfully worked with other companies in the food industry, including McDonald’s* and Subway,* to reduce antibiotic use in the chicken and meat supply chains.
The Conference on Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing (SRI) in Denver last week provided the perfect venue for us to further our work on this issue and educate others about the connection between large-scale agriculture and antibiotic resistance. At the conference, we asked colleagues from the SRI industry to share their thoughts about the importance of antibiotics. Responses ran the gamut. Everything from “they help protect public health” to “being sick is no fun” was mentioned. As consumers, investors, and individuals, we believe that it’s important for all of us to understand how truly important antibiotics are, and to consider what we are doing to ensure that they continue to be effective in fighting human disease.
To learn more about Green Century’s Sustainable Agriculture Program, how we are working toward a more sustainable food system and helping to curb the excessive and irresponsible use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, please click here, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-800-934-7336.
*As of September 30, 2016, the holdings of the International Index Fund are valued at cost. As of the same date, McDonald’s Corporation comprised 1.29%, 0.00%, and 0.00%, of the Green Century Equity Fund, Green Century Balanced Fund, and Green Century International Index Fund, respectively. Other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of the Green Century Funds as of September 30, 2016. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
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