Nutrien and GIFS: growing science for life, together

Published: Oct 18, 2021

Nine years ago, Nutrien joined forces with the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan to create the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), a Saskatoon-based innovation catalyst dedicated to the discovery, development and delivery of solutions for the production of globally sustainable food. In those nine years, Nutrien’s commitment to global food security has only grown stronger, which is why the company recently renewed its commitment to GIFS, for at least the next three years.

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“Achieving global food security is central to Nutrien’s Purpose to grow our world from the ground up, and GIFS is doing incredibly important work in this area,” says Mayo Schmidt, Nutrien President and CEO. “Saskatchewan is one of the world’s strongest agri-science ecosystems, and we’re proud to partner with GIFS, the Province and the University of Saskatchewan, to help bring innovations to market that will help farmers succeed in sustainably feeding a growing planet to realize Nutrien’s Feeding the Future plan commitments.”

GIFS recently relocated to an expansive facility not far from Nutrien’s canola research lab in the Innovation Place ag research hub in Saskatoon. The new location contains twice as much laboratory space as its predecessor, and three times its plant growth facilities, including greenhouses and plant growth chambers. Nutrien leaders got an in-person look at the new digs a few weeks ago, when they and delegates from government, academia and the media stopped by for a tour. 

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Visitors got a peek at the greenhouses and plant growth chambers – as well as the Data Management and Analytics platform, which promotes the use and reuse of R&D data to help advance sustainable food security. 

Another tour highlight was the Omics and Precision Agriculture Laboratory (OPAL) – a state-of-the-art facility that provides combined genomics, phenomics and bioinformatics services to the agriculture and food sectors.


“GIFS is leveraging Saskatchewan’s strengths to help build a food-secure world, and I’m so proud of the work we’re doing,” says Candace Laing, Nutrien’s Vice President, Sustainability & Stakeholder Relations, who sits on the GIFS board. “We’re bringing academics, industry, producers, consumers and governments together to decrease the time between the discovery of innovative science and its delivery to market.”

One GIFS initiative that’s currently underway is an effort to boost photosynthesis in crops – the process by which plants use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into energy and food.


“Agriculture is part of the solution for mitigating the effects of climate change and managing greenhouse gas emissions,” says Dr. Steven Webb, CEO of GIFS. “Through photosynthesis, plants are able to absorb and sequester carbon to create food and energy, making the process one of nature’s safest and most sustainable solutions to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. GIFS’ research programs to improve the photosynthetic ability of plants will help lead to improved quality crop yield and reduced carbon emissions – a win for economics and the environment.”