Organic farming is more than a method of agriculture; it’s a holistic approach grounded in principles that nurture the health of our ecosystems, communities, and future generations. Rooted in the interconnected ethical principles of health, ecology, fairness, and care, organic farming offers a vision to improve agriculture globally. These principles inspire the organic movement, guiding the development of sustainable practices and standards.
Person holding a small plant

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels

Principles of Health

Health in organic farming is the wholeness and integrity of living systems. It encompasses physical, mental, social, and ecological well-being, extending beyond the mere absence of illness. Key characteristics of health include immunity, resilience, and regeneration. Organic agriculture aims to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms, from the smallest soil microbes to humans.

Organic farming focuses on producing high-quality, nutritious food that contributes to preventive health care and overall well-being. To achieve this, it avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, animal drugs, and food additives that could have adverse health effects. By fostering healthy soils and ecosystems, organic farming supports robust plants and animals, ultimately benefiting human health.

Principles of Ecology

The principle of ecology roots organic agriculture within living ecological systems, emphasizing that production should be based on ecological processes and recycling. Nourishment and well-being are achieved through the specific production environment: the living soil for crops, the farm ecosystem for animals, and the aquatic environment for fish and marine organisms.

Organic farming aligns with nature’s cycles and ecological balances, which vary by location. Management practices must be adapted to local conditions, ecology, culture, and scale. By reducing inputs through reuse, recycling, and efficient management of materials and energy, organic farming maintains and improves environmental quality and conserves resources.

Ecological balance is achieved through the design of farming systems, the establishment of habitats, and the maintenance of genetic and agricultural diversity. Organic practices aim to protect and benefit the common environment, including landscapes, climate, habitats, biodiversity, air, and water.

Woman surrounded by sunflowers

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels

Principles of Fairness

Fairness in organic farming is characterized by equity, respect, justice, and stewardship of the shared world among all living beings. This principle emphasizes the importance of conducting human relationships in a fair manner at all levels and to all parties involved in organic agriculture: farmers, workers, processors, distributors, traders, and consumers.

Organic farming seeks to provide a good quality of life for everyone involved and contribute to food sovereignty and poverty reduction. It aims to produce a sufficient supply of good quality food and other products while ensuring that animals are provided with conditions that respect their natural behavior and well-being.

Natural and environmental resources should be managed in a socially and ecologically just way, held in trust for future generations. Fairness requires production, distribution, and trade systems that are open, equitable, and account for real environmental and social costs.

Principles of Care

Organic agriculture is a dynamic system that responds to internal and external demands and conditions. Practitioners aim to enhance efficiency and productivity without jeopardizing health and well-being. New technologies need careful assessment, and existing methods should be regularly reviewed, reflecting an understanding that ecosystems and agriculture are complex and not fully understood.

The principle of care highlights precaution and responsibility in management, development, and technology choices. Science is necessary to ensure organic agriculture is healthy, safe, and ecologically sound. However, scientific knowledge must be complemented by practical experience, accumulated wisdom, and traditional and indigenous knowledge.

Organic farming 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 stakeholders through transparent and participatory processes.


Organic farming is built on a foundation of principles that promote health, ecological balance, fairness, and care. By adhering to these principles, organic agriculture offers a sustainable and ethical approach to farming that benefits the environment, communities, and future generations. As the world faces growing environmental and social challenges, the principles of organic farming provide a roadmap for creating a healthier and more equitable food system.