The 4 organic principles

The 4 organic principles

September 2021: Nanna Læssøe Navntoft

Organics is not just about labelling (or: New campaign for organic principles)

The Danish state-controlled “Ø for organic” red label is the consumer’s guarantee of rigorous control of organic produce. Organics is not just about control and labelling, however, and Organic Denmark is currently working to enhance knowledge of the four principles for organic production that are endorsed and adhered to by organic producers all over the world.

We want to increase awareness of the four organic principles as a natural foundation for the development of a sustainable food system throughout the supply chains. The considerable impact from food production on our climate and on biodiversity makes the four organic principles more relevant than ever before. We want to do our utmost to promote these principles.

The principles of Health, Fairness, Ecology and Care express the vision and the fundamental values of the organic movement, and can guide us in managing nature’s resources, to ensure that we cultivate, process, buy and eat food that is as gentle on the environment as possible.

The campaign to increase public awareness of the principles will culminate this autumn with an outdoor and SoMe campaign throughout Denmark, supported by four short films – one for each principle. New graphics will illustrate the value of the four principles independently and in combination.

In the campaign, we have ‘translated’ the principles to align with now modern consumers think and act. We hope that texts, graphics, films and other material will be put to good use and serve as inspiration for organic businesses to promote the organic principles. Because organics is not just about labelling.

Health

Organic farming must sustain and ensure the health of people, society and our planet. Fertile soil, clean drinking water and healthy animals that can develop naturally will create healthy food and thereby healthy people. The organic principles remind us that we are part of something greater than ourselves and that we are interconnected with the earth, the animals, and all other living beings. Organic farming safeguards health with pure, natural and authentic produce that is free of unnecessary additives and synthetic pesticides. Raw materials should be cultivated and processed under sound conditions, with respect and curiosity, so that the produce retains its unique properties as a source of healthy nutrition.

Fairness

Organic farming must ensure fairness, honesty and decency in all matters and relations that concern the welfare of humans and animals and how we manage our planet’s resources. We have an obligation to meet each other with respect and to ensure decent working conditions, openness in production and fair business models that make organic production a sustainable livelihood for producers, businesses and retailers. We are also building robust supply chains so that as many people as possible can enjoy organic produce that meets high safety and quality standards. Fairness means caring for things and creatures that cannot defend themselves. We manage farm animals according to their natural instincts, and we help to preserve habitats and diversity throughout the ecosystem.

Care

Organic farming must be managed in a precautionary, empathetic and responsible manner, to protect the health and welfare of humans, animals and our planet both now and in the future. We know that we are part of a unique and vibrant food chain that we must take care of and work with. We take a cautious approach to working with nature and animals and, as far as possible, use the systems and biological processes that occur naturally. Our responsibility and care for the natural environment, clean groundwater and animal welfare require us to be critical of quick fixes and to think about the generations that will follow us. We develop robust and diverse agricultural systems, and we give priority to prevention rather than treatment and cure. Organic production therefore objects to genetic manipulation and the use of synthetic pesticides.

Ecology

Ecology is rooted in a circular understanding that we receive from nature and give back to nature. We take a long-term, persistent approach to creating a balanced food system, to ensure that our footprint on nature’s resources is as gentle as possible. We strike a careful balance between necessary consumption and a sustainable lifestyle that takes account of the climate, biodiversity, animal welfare and the need for drinking water. We are careful to ensure that we do not take more than we need. Organic production must be adapted to local conditions, based on the reuse and recycling of resources and exploring how we can minimise waste and create sustainable cycles between rural and urban areas.