|Principles in Organic Farming
The four principles of organic agriculture are as follows:
Principle of health
should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and
planet as one and indivisible.
This principle points
out that the health of individuals and communities cannot be separated
from the health of ecosystems - healthy soils produce healthy crops
that foster the health of animals and people.
Health is the
wholeness and integrity of living systems. It is not simply the absence
of illness, but the maintenance of physical, mental, social and
ecological well-being. Immunity, resilience and regeneration are key
characteristics of health.
The role of organic
agriculture, whether in farming, processing, distribution, or
consumption, is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and
organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings. In particular,
organic agriculture is intended to produce high quality, nutritious
food that contributes to preventive health care and well-being. In view
of this it should avoid the use of fertilizers, pesticides, animal
drugs and food additives that may have adverse health effects.
Principle of ecology
should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with
them, emulate them and help sustain them.
This principle roots
organic agriculture within living ecological systems. It states that
production is to be based on ecological processes, and recycling.
Nourishment and well-being are achieved through the ecology of the
specific production environment. For example, in the case of crops this
is the living soil; for animals it is the farm ecosystem; for fish and
marine organisms, the aquatic environment.
pastoral and wild harvest systems should fit the cycles and ecological
balances in nature. These cycles are universal but their operation is
site-specific. Organic management must be adapted to local conditions,
ecology, culture and scale. Inputs should be reduced by reuse,
recycling and efficient management of materials and energy in order to
maintain and improve environmental quality and conserve resources.
should attain ecological balance through the design of farming systems,
establishment of habitats and maintenance of genetic and agricultural
diversity. Those who produce, process, trade, or consume organic
products should protect and benefit the common environment including
landscapes, climate, habitats, biodiversity, air and water.
Principle of fairness
should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the
common environment and life opportunities.
characterized by equity, respect, justice and stewardship of the shared
world, both among people and in their relations to other living
emphasizes that those involved in organic agriculture should conduct
human relationships in a manner that ensures fairness at all levels and
to all parties - farmers, workers, processors, distributors, traders
and consumers. Organic agriculture should provide everyone involved
with a good quality of life, and contribute to food sovereignty and
reduction of poverty. It aims to produce a sufficient supply of good
quality food and other products.
This principle insists that animals should be provided with
the conditions and opportunities of life that accord with their
physiology, natural behavior and well-being.
environmental resources that are used for production and consumption
should be managed in a way that is socially and ecologically just and
should be held in trust for future generations. Fairness requires
systems of production, distribution and trade that are open and
equitable and account for real environmental and social costs.
Principle of care
should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect
the health and well-being of current and future generations and the
is a living and dynamic system that responds to internal and external
demands and conditions. Practitioners of organic agriculture can
enhance efficiency and increase productivity, but this should not be at
the risk of jeopardizing health and well-being. Consequently, new
technologies need to be assessed and existing methods reviewed. Given
the incomplete understanding of ecosystems and agriculture, care must
This principle states
that precaution and responsibility are the key concerns in management,
development and technology choices in organic agriculture. Science is
necessary to ensure that organic agriculture is healthy, safe and
ecologically sound. However, scientific knowledge alone is not
sufficient. Practical experience, accumulated wisdom and traditional
and indigenous knowledge offer valid solutions, tested by time. Organic
agriculture should prevent significant risks by adopting appropriate
technologies and rejecting unpredictable ones, such as genetic
engineering. Decisions should reflect the values and needs of all who
might be affected, through transparent and participatory processes.
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