Identifying and integrating basic ethical values of organic agriculture in the development of the EU Regulation

Organic farming is based primarily on cooperation with natural systems as a means of agricultural production, whereas conventional agriculture often to a large extent relies on external inputs and technological interventions. Therefore, organic production is more dependent on local climatic, edaphic, and cultural conditions and needs to adapt to these. Moreover, the ideals of organic agriculture support involvement of farming in local community development. So, even if the basic values are shared, organic agriculture may show different practices in different regions and local areas. The EU, on the other hand, has a policy of promoting trade across the borders of EU member states and affiliated states. Harmonisation and development of common regulations and standards are important means to reach this goal. This is frequently perceived as a problem among organic farmers due to their great dependence on local conditions and resources.

Therefore, it is of key importance that the basic ethical values are taken into consideration and conflicts between different values are made explicit when the organic production methods are evaluated and changes to the organic standards are proposed. Based on this, some specific research questions have been formulated for this work package:

1. What are the basic ethical values of the organic movement, and how are they related to ethical theories?

2. Do these ethical values form a coherent set or are there conflicts among them? If so, what are these conflicts?

3. Are there differences in values between different stakeholder groups and regions in European organic agriculture? If so, what are the differences?

4. What are the conflicts, if any, between a common EU regulation and locally adapted practices of organic farming? Do these conflicts reside in the organic values or in the relation to other societal values (e.g. free trade)?

5. How can the ethical value basis of organic agriculture, the possible conflicts between organic and societal values, and the differences within organic values and practices be handled in the development of the EU regulation?

Additional information

WP 2 publications

Related work


The objectives of workpackage 2 are to:

Identify the basic ethical values and value differences in organic farming

Develop a procedure for balancing and integrating these basic values in developments of EU regulation in consideration of the research questions listed below

And on this basis, provide recommendations on the development of EU Regulation 2092/91 and other organic standards

For more information please contact

Hugo Fjelsted Alrøe, DARCOF (WP manager)

Susanne Padel, UWA (WP co-manager)