Guardrail ON Antimicrobial Resistance

Protecting Diversified Portfolios from a Grave Threat

The global economy faces a US$100 trillion headwind over the next three decades from overuse of ANTIBIOTICS.

The economic cost of intensifying antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will burden investment portfolios over the next 30 years and beyond. Protecting investors from rising AMR will require companies to reduce antimicrobial use in food animals significantly.

Investors are responding by insisting that companies adopt guardrails that keep antimicrobial use within sustainable parameters. The campaign addresses the reality that antimicrobial overuse can increase margins and cash flows at individual companies while externalizing costs that threaten the returns of investors’ diversified portfolios.

The World Health Organization Guidelines on Use of Medically Important Antimicrobials in Food-Producing Animals establish a clear guardrail, providing the starting point for this campaign. In addition to requesting that companies comply with the WHO Guidelines, the guardrail asks companies to refrain from lobbying or political influence activities that discourage regulatory solutions to AMR.

Proxy Actions

Take Action This Proxy Season

Take action on AMR by voting FOR proposals at these upcoming annual meetings.

Opportunities to Support Guardrails


…In favor of proposals that companies follow WHO Guidelines,

…Against designated directors at companies that fail to follow WHO Guidelines.


Publicly declare support for the AMR Guardrail for the express purpose of preserving diversified portfolio value.


If in communication with target companies, reinforce expectation that they comply with the AMR Guardrail and indicate support for shareholder proposals/no-votes at non-complying companies. Explain that your concern involves the impact of antimicrobial use on your entire portfolio.

Co-file proposals at target companies.

for asset owners,

Be an active client and…

…Engage with asset managers to push for support on AMR voting initiatives and an AMR Guardrail (as an institutional policy, rather than as a carve-out just for the one asset owner).

…Write asset-management mandates to require managers to practice system stewardship. Model language can be found here.

for asset managers,

…Explain the system-stewardship value proposition to clients. The Cambridge Principles frame this concept concisely.

…Engage with proxy advisors about the need for proxy voting advice that supports the value of a client’s entire portfolio.

…Update investment beliefs and proxy voting guidelines to give staff and advisors the direction they need to act on systemic issues, and ensure trustees have accounted for the full effect of their stewardship choices. Model language can be found here.

See What Investors And Companies Are Saying

“The antibiotics in the supply chains of McDonald’s and other food companies represent a material risk. AMR kills more than a million people each year and could cause $100 trillion in economic damage by 2050. Failure to adequately respond to AMR could lead to far greater risks—for our clients, society, and the global economy—than any individual company costs McDonald’s would incur by addressing this issue. Without coordinated action now, AMR could lead to the next global health crisis.”

Maria Ortino, LGIM, in a 2023 press release

“At the moment, we do not have a policy that says in the case of AMR, we will vote against X, Y and Z directors, but we certainly wouldn’t shy away from using that tool.”

Maria Ortino, LGIM, in Responsible Investor

“…Consistent industry change is needed in the use of antibiotics to raise livestock and this cannot be achieved in isolation at any one company alone.”

– Akaash Sachdeva, HESTA, in Responsible Investor

“Enhancing husbandry practices, judicial use of antimicrobials for animals, AMR monitoring and improvement of animal sanitation are seen as critical AMR reduction strategies… Collaboration is critical in making progress in the fight against AMR. Yum! and other companies can leverage scale to potentially influence key players such as suppliers and governments.”

2021 YUM! Antimicrobial Resistance Report


The Shareholder Commons’ case study—“Antimicrobial Resistance & the Engagement Gap: Why Investors Must Do More than Move the Needle, and How They Can”—describes the research establishing the relationship between antimicrobial use and long-term returns of diversified portfolios and shows how diversified investors can improve their returns by prioritizing the public health system over individual company enterprise value when addressing companies’ use of antimicrobials.

To learn more in the meantime, read our launch announcement or contact us.