L&G upping the ante on McDonald’s over antibiotics in beef

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L&G escalates pressure on McDonald’s over antibiotics in beef, will vote to release cost of healthcare report

One of Britain’s biggest asset managers is pressuring McDonald’s over its use of antibiotics in factory farming.

Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) will vote in favor of a motion this week at the burger chain’s annual meeting urging it to release a report on the cost of drugs to public health.

The existence of the motion, which was brought by Trinity College Cambridge, was first revealed by The Mail on Sunday last week.

Once bitten: Legal & General will vote in favor of a motion at McDonald’s annual meeting urging it to release a report on the cost of drugs to public health

Corporate raider Carl Icahn – the billionaire investor who inspired Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street – also put his name to the proposal, as did investment consultancy PIRC.

LGIM, one of McDonald’s top 20 shareholders, fears the overuse of antibiotics in meat production is fueling the rise of drug-resistant superbugs.

The pension group said: “While we note the company’s past efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in its chicken, beef and pork supply chain, we believe that the RAM [anti-microbial resistance] is an important financial issue for the company and other stakeholders.

“Without coordinated action today, antimicrobial resistance could trigger the next global health crisis.”

According to the World Bank, the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance could cause up to ten million deaths a year by 2050. A recent report by the medical journal The Lancet suggested that this figure may be underestimated.

Icahn, 86, is behind a separate resolution to appoint two directors to McDonald’s board in a bid to hold the company accountable on a promise to improve the treatment of pigs.

Activists have complained that McDonald’s has continued to work with suppliers who use what are called “gestation stalls”. Icahn says company bosses – in private conversations with him – have pledged to phase them out by this year.

The cages are so small that they prevent pregnant sows from turning over. They have been banned in the UK since 1999.

McDonald’s rejected Icahn’s claims, saying sourcing pork from suppliers who never use gestation crates is “completely impractical” because those companies represent a tiny fraction of the pork industry.

Proxy voting consultants Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services both oppose the antibiotics motion and the decision to appoint two directors to McDonald’s board.

McDonald’s said it was committed to reducing antibiotics “where appropriate and measurable”.

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