A commitment to feeding the world: The Global Institute for Food Security in Saskatchewan

Posted on January 16, 2013

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"Advancing Saskatchewan's agricultural advantage allows us to significantly increase the global food supply - our moral obligation as a good global citizen - while building the next economy, an innovation economy, here at home." ~ Premier Brad Wall – December 10, 2012

________________________________________________________ Premier Brad Wall has talked about Saskatchewan’s responsibility to feed a growing world as a moral obligation. He has seen the numbers and the expected trends of world population growing to nine billion by 2050. He also understands that Saskatchewan can play a major role in feeding the world. That message was clear on December 10, 2012, when the founding partners—the Premier, PotashCorp CEO Bill Doyle and the President of the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) Dr. Ilene Busch-Vishniac—formally announced and launched the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the U of S.

The Institute will develop Saskatchewan-led solutions to feed a growing world population. Over the years, Saskatchewan has emerged as a world leader in agriculture and biotechnology. The province has also become a world-leading exporter of high-quality agricultural products. In essence, GIFS will work to enhance Saskatchewan’s standing, on both fronts, by understanding how to sustainably expand the supply and quality of food, as well as determine how to ensure food gets to those in need of it most. Now that it has been announced, a great deal of work needs to be done to achieve the goals of the Institute. Those goals include recruiting key researchers who will generate new knowledge and technologies that will build on Saskatchewan’s existing strength in crop production, food systems and natural advantages. The short, medium and long-term goals will result in much needed technological, economic, and nutritional improvements to the food supply system while building sustainable agro-ecosystems at home and around the world. An initiative this bold and important does not happen overnight or without solid support. So, it should come as no surprise that GIFS has been in development for quite some time.

The idea for the partnership was discussed by the Premier, Doyle, and former U of S President Peter MacKinnon in mid-2011. During a speech on November 1, 2011 to a Saskatoon Rotary Club, Premier Wall announced that if re-elected, the government would begin work on the establishment of a Global Institute for Food Security. Not only has the government made a commitment to help feed the world with GIFS but they are also making a financial commitment of $15 million over the next seven-years. PotashCorp is committing $35 million over the same seven-year time frame. PotashCorp's investment represents the largest donation in the company's history and reflects its deep commitment to food security. The role of the University of Saskatchewan will be critical to the long-term success of the Institute. Their world-class facilities, expertise and dedication to seeing this project come together cannot be overstated.

In the days following the announcement, one question from media and industry was – why build this Institute in Saskatchewan? Maybe the question should have been, why not in Saskatchewan? Regardless of the way you ask the question, the answer is the same. Saskatchewan is one of the world’s leading food-producing regions and hubs for food-system related research. We can dig a little deeper and point to the fact that more than 40 per cent of this country’s agricultural land is found within our borders, and we’re the world’s top exporter of lentils and dried peas. Saskatchewan exports almost half the world’s canola meal and one third of canola oil. Saskatchewan also remains at the forefront of agricultural biotechnology research in Canada and the new Institute will continue to build on Saskatchewan's existing strength in crop production systems through new investments in technological, economic, nutritional and environmental improvements to the food supply system at home and around the world.

Researchers and economic enterprises in the private and public sector in Saskatchewan are focused on working together, taking the lead and developing new ways and ideas to provide a growing world with food. Instead of working in small corners, with limited resources, the door is now open for the world’s greatest minds to use GIFS as a centre of excellence for crop research and food production. Visit the Global Institute for Food Security website  

 

Dr. Roger Beachy to lead Global Institute for Food SecurityBeachy-Photo-150 The Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan is pleased to announce Dr. Roger Beachy has been appointed on Friday January 11, 2013 to lead the recently announced Institute as its founding Executive Director and CEO.

Among his many accolades, Dr. Beachy, former Chief Scientist of the United States Department of Agriculture, has worked on research projects that led to the development of the world’s first genetically modified food crop, a variety of tomato modified for resistance to virus disease. His work in food crops, production agriculture and the applications of biotechnology in agriculture, nutrition and human health will be a great asset to the Institute.

This is not the first time Dr. Beachy has been tapped to lead a major initiative. He was also the founding President of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre in St. Louis, Missouri. The Centre’s mission was to improve the human condition through plant science. Dr. Beachy’s work and expertise in the field of plant sciences, molecular biology and biotechnology, and his experiences in institution building and in policy development will ensure a solid foundation for GIFS.