Shareholders Poised to Vote Green Century Proposal Urging McDonald’s* to Prevent Development of Antibiotic-Resistant “Superbugs” in its Supply Chains
Andrea Ranger, Shareholder Advocate, firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-349-2813;
Pam Podger, Communications Director, email@example.com, 802-299-9495
Boston, May 22, 2023 – Green Century° and the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas, have filed a shareholder proposal with McDonald’s urging it to eliminate routine use of antibiotics that are important to protecting human health on the animals in its supply chains. The proposal goes to a vote on Thursday, May 25.
The Sisters had previously pressed McDonald’s to engage its pork and beef suppliers to phase out use of the types of antibiotics on their animals that people also use. In 2018, the Sisters filed a similar proposal and withdrew it in exchange for McDonald’s promise to announce reduction targets by 2020. McDonald’s failed to meet its promise.
Administering low doses of antibiotics in food and water can spur development of ‘superbugs’ in farm animals and create bacteria so resistant to treatment that even the most potent antibiotics can fail to stop the disease. There are a handful of transmission pathways for antibiotic-resistant bacteria that allow them to jump from farm animals to humans. Infection can happen through handling bacteria-laden meat from the supermarket, drinking water polluted by farm runoff, and direct contact with animals by farm workers and meat processors. In 2021, the United Nations announced that we may soon reach a ‘tipping point’ when antimicrobial resistance becomes the leading cause of death – surpassing heart disease.
McDonald’s new responsible use policy encourages producers and veterinary professionals, among others, to “share responsibility for proactively developing and implementing effective best management strategies to reduce, and where possible eliminate, the need for [medically-important] antibiotic use.”
However, the policy falls short of the proposal’s request. Green Century and the Benedictine Sisters had asked McDonald’s address use of antibiotics in its pork as well as beef supply chains. Further, the policy does not address the need for elimination targets, timelines, metrics for measuring implementation, third-party verification, or guidelines for enforcement when suppliers fail to meet McDonald’s guidelines.
“The upcoming vote is an opportunity for shareholders to assess the gap between what McDonald’s had stated it would do in the past to its new responsible use policy,” said Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Funds. “In 2018, McDonald’s promised the nuns that it would announce targets by the end of 2020. It reneged and provided a responsible use policy that has no teeth. In my opinion, it appears to be more aspirational than actionable.”
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°Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are one of the first families of fossil fuel-free, environmentally responsible mutual funds. Green Century hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.
*As of March 31, 2023, McDonald’s Corporation comprised 0.00%, 1.12%, and 0.00% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century International Index Fund, respectively. As of the same date, other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of any of the Green Century Funds. 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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