Since the mid – 1970s women from various countries have been discussing these issues from a feminist perspective on a national and international level. Some of them came together at the Second International Interdisciplinary Congress of Women in Groningen, The Netherlands, in April 1984 and created a network called FINNRET (Feminist International Network on New Reproductive Technologies.
In 1985, the network women organised the Women’s Emergency Conference on the New Reproductive Technologies in Vallinge, Sweden. Seventy -f our women from 20 countries met to exchange information and discuss feminist analysis. These discussions lead to a clear perspective on the interrelationship between reproductive and genetic engineering, their harmful effects on women worldwide, and the need for feminist resistance strategies. Both the conference resolution, as the first formulation of common standpoints, and the change of the network’s name from FINNRET to FINRRAGE (Feminist International Network of Resistance to Reproductive and Genetic Engineering), reflected these insights.
Three women took the recommendations of the conference and the issues explored there to the United Nations Decade on Women Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, in July 1985 and urged women from all over the world to take up these issues.
Since 1985, FINRRAGE has cooperated with different local or national organisations in conducting a number of national, continental, and international conferen ces. The aim of these meetings is to bring together FINRRAGE activists to intensify and broaden the exchange of information and positions.
From the early beginnings it was realised that the experiences and activism of women from Asia, Africa and Latin America are essential to the work of FINRRAGE. Together with women from westernised countries, their political and cultural diversity is the basis for developing common strategies for resistance. An important step towards this goal was the organisation of the international FINRRAGE conference in Bangladesh, together with the Bangladeshi organisation UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative). The conference brought together more than 140 women from 35 countries (a majority of them from Asia) in March 1989 and greatly influenced the transnational scope of discussion and exchange.
Some of the developments and issues discussed in Comilla were:
1. new strategies of population control involving long acting hormonal implants and injections and anti – pregnancy vaccines which further reduce women’s control over contraception;
2. continued experimentation on women in IVF programs, including new hormone treatments to create ‘biochemical menopause’ before ovary stimulation that often leads to severe injuries (and deaths) from severe ovarian hyperstimulaton;
3. prenatal sex selection in India, preimplantation genetic diagnosis of IVF embryos and resistance against these methods by women and groups working against the discrimination of disabled groups;
4. the new ecological and economic threats posed by the use of genetic engineering in agriculture.
The participants at the conference formulated their positions and demands in a final document, the Comilla Declaration.