Genetically Modified Organisms – an ILPBC hosted discussion

Amara Farm – Tarragon image 2023

Amara Farm – Tarragon image 2023.

I was one of the lawyers involved with the founding of the Ismaili Legal Professionals of British Columbia (ILPBC). I recently discovered a film recording of a discussion hosted by the ILPBC on November 8, 2012. This recording is posted for archival purposes.

Below is the text of the invitation sent out.

Presentation: Genetically Modified Foods – A Community and Legal Perspective.

Join us for this presentation by Arzeena Hamir (Agrologist, Farmer, Food Security Activist) and Aiyaz Alibhai (Intellectual Property Lawyer), two well know expert in their respective fields for a stimulating and informative set of presentations about a topic that affects us all – our food system and the safety of the foods we consume. The detailed presentation topics and biographies are at the end of this message.

Event: Dinner and Presentations

Date: Thursday, November 8, 2012. 6:30-9:00 pm (Dinner served at 7:00pm, Presentations and Q&A 7:30pm-8:30pm).

Location: Little Nest, 1716 Charles Street (half block from Commercial Drive). 604-251-9994  (

Registration and Cost:  $30.00 per person (please make cheques payable to “Zool Suleman” and send them well in advance to “Zool Suleman, PO Box 66046 Station F, Vancouver, BC, V5N 5L4”). Seating is limited to approximately 40, so register early.


Detailed Biographies and Topics

Arzeena Hamir Biography  (updated 2023 link to bio and

Arzeena Hamir is a Professional Agrologist who specializes in organic food production. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Crop Science from the University of Guelph and her Master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of London, England. Arzeena worked abroad for many years as a CUSO volunteer in Thailand and as a researcher in Jamaica, India, and Bangladesh. She was the staff agrologist for West Coast Seeds in the late ’90s and ran her own seed company, Terra Viva Organics. From 2008-2012 Arzeena was the Coordinator of the Richmond Food Security Society where she oversaw a number of community projects which included a proposal to the City of Richmond to declare itself a GMO-free Zone. In 2010, in conjunction with Kwantlen University, Arzeena helped to launch the Richmond Farm School. She currently sits on the Board of the BC Food Systems Network and runs Amara Farm,  a 25-acre farm, in Courtenay, BC.

(2012 link on invitation) Link:

Topic of Presentation
Since 1988, the Canadian public has unknowingly been ingesting genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Neither Health Canada or Agriculture Canada feel that these ingredients require special labelling so currently, between 80-90% of the canola, corn and soybean crop is GMO. As a result, a number of communities in BC have begun enacting Resolutions to declare themselves GMO-free.

Aiyaz Alibhai Biography (updated 2023 link to bio

Aiyaz is partner with Miller Thomson LLP.  Aiyaz’s practice focuses on intellectual property and technology law, including IP opinions and litigation, IP transactions, data protection, privacy, social media, acquisitions and technology transfers. He takes a creative, scientific and results-oriented approach to his practice.

Aiyaz has represented clients in various industries and organizations, including university and post-secondary institutions, aerospace, consumer products, life sciences, financial services, banking and mobile money service providers, software and information technology, gaming, medical devices, robotics, wireless and telecommunications.

He is a Governor on the Stratford Hall International Baccalaureate K-12 School, and a Member of the Aga Khan Ismaili National Conciliation and Arbitration Board

Topic of Presentation
Novel Foods: Too Hot and Spicy?
(Legal and Ethical Issues Relating to Genetically Modified Foods in Canada)

Foods derived from genetic modification and genetic engineering (collectively “GM”) are considered to be “novel foods” and regulated by Health Canada. GM is a special set of technologies that alter the genetic makeup of organisms such as animals, plants, or bacteria. Genetically engineered, a more general term, refers to using techniques that permit the direct transfer or removal of genes in that organization.

Technologies for genetically modifying foods offer dramatic promise for meeting some of the 21st Century’s greatest challenges for alleviating poverty, malnutrition and disease prevention. However, like all new technologies, they also pose some risks, both known and unknown. Controversies surrounding GM foods and crops commonly focus on human and environmental safety, labelling and consumer choice, intellectual property rights, ethics, food security, poverty reduction, and environmental conservation.

This presentation will attempt to spice up awareness regarding the above issues while we consume foods that are “novel” or otherwise in good company.

(2012 link on invitation) Link: