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Curious about where your food comes from?

July 8, 2024 | Giving and sponsorships

Do you ever wonder about the food you eat? Where it comes from?  How it’s produced? And what’s the impact of that production on the environment and our health and wellbeing? 

We’re proud to announce BMO has gifted $1 million to the Simpson Centre for Food and Agricultural Policy at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, to support the launch of a ground-breaking program to help change how society perceives – and interacts with – the food system.  how society perceives and interacts with the food system.  

The Ag Literacy for Healthier People and Planet program aims to foster understanding about the complexities of agricultural systems in a world where the food we eat plays a crucial role in both our health – and the health of our planet. The program will offer a variety of written and digital resources to educate the public on controversial issue like GMOs, pesticides and food labels. It will also survey consumer knowledge and actively engage with people.  

“BMO is a proud partner of Ag Literacy for Healthier People and Planet to help broaden the understanding and importance of sustainable innovation within the agricultural food system and how our communities interact with it. Supporting agricultural excellence in next generations of students across Canada and the U.S. aligns with BMO’s Purpose to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life and demonstrates how we are driving progress for a sustainable future.”

– Helen Seibel
Head, Employee & Community Giving, BMO 

Agri-food systems globally are under scrutiny for their environmental impacts and energy-intensive inputs. Industry-wide challenges, such as rising greenhouse gas emissions and an increasingly unpredictable environment, are being exacerbated by climate change and global instability, creating political pressure to promote more sustainable food practices.  

Canadian agriculture has traditionally faced criticism related to inputs and production practices that can degrade soil and wider ecosystems. To achieve more sustainable food systems, the country needs substantial changes in the habits of millions of Canadians. BMO is helping empower the public – and policy makers – to address these concerns and move towards better practices.  

The Simpson Centre and its strategic academic partners – 13 universities across Canada and Stanford University in the U.S. – will conduct outreach and research on food systems over approximately five years. That work will foster a deeper understanding of the food choices we make and inform the design of agricultural policies. Through targeted outreach and research, the Centre will work to promote positive change in food habits and agricultural policies.  

“The program is designed to reach a broad range of audiences, including formal stakeholders such as research, industry and government, as well as informal audiences such as consumers and citizens. We are particularly focused on engaging young adults and teenagers who are active on social media and eager to participate in shaping the future of food systems.”

– Guillaume Lhermie
Director of the Simpson Centre 

As one of the largest financial institutions in North America, BMO has a responsibility to think beyond our bottom line, and consider the difference we can make for the communities where we live and operate. This gift is aligned with our commitment to a sustainable future. It supports academic and non-profit organizations that drive innovation in sustainability across areas including biodiversity, environmental protection and climate change and justice.  

As longtime partners and investors in the agricultural sector and a leader in sustainability, we know this research is vital to the progress being made to grow Canada’s agri-food sector – and to the future. 

Last week, BMO visited the Simpson Centre School for Public Policy for a special event announcing our Gift for the Ag Literacy for Healthier People and Planet program:

For information on BMO’s Purpose, social impact and commitments to a sustainable future, visit our Sustainability Report, Purpose,Climate and Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025 pages.  

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