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ESG Viewpoint: Public health: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the animal health industry

Discover what steps we believe companies can take to counter the threat of AMR.
October 2021

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Companies in the animal health industry have an important role to play in stopping the spread of “superbugs” – harmful bacteria that have acquired resistance to one or more of the antibiotics used to treat the serious infections they can cause.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – dubbed the “silent pandemic” – was back on the agenda at the G7 Summit in June 2021. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, the G7 Leaders committed to improving pandemic preparedness and combatting longstanding global health threats, including AMR. Crucially, a spotlight was shone on the importance of a “One Health” approach, recognising the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental health.

As highlighted in our Antimicrobial Resistance: Overcoming challenges Viewpoint, animal protein production is estimated to account for 73% of global antibiotic use. Unfortunately, the spread of intensive farming practices has resulted in increased dependence on antibiotics, which are used to:

  • Treat diseases
  • Prevent diseases (“prophylaxis”) that can be caused by unsanitary and crowded conditions
  • Promote growth

Antibiotics are supplied to animal protein producers by companies in the highly consolidated $47 billion animal health industry, which manufactures veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and other animal health products. Given that there is growing evidence that the use of antibiotics in animal protein production is fuelling the spread of AMR and undermining public health, animal health companies need to ramp up their efforts to prevent the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. Furthermore, they need to channel R&D spending into the development of effective alternatives to antibiotics.

Risk warnings
Views and opinions have been arrived at by BMO Global Asset Management and should not be considered to be a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any companies that may be mentioned.
The information, opinions, estimates or forecasts contained in this document were obtained from sources reasonably believed to be reliable and are subject to change at any time.

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Interesting in learning more? We look at some of the key risks facing animal health companies, showcase how we have engaged with a range of businesses and explore how companies can make a meaningful difference in the fight against AMR. Download the full viewpoint to discover more.

Get to know the authors

Catherine McCabe

Get to know the authors

Catherine McCabe, Analyst, Responsible Investment

Catherine joined the Responsible Investment team in 2018, and currently covers engagement on public health issues. She also leads work on BMO GAM’s Responsible product range. Outside of work, Catherine enjoys listening to podcasts about science and history, and hiking in the Alps. She speaks German and Italian because she studied both languages at university.

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