Organic principles

The four principles

Organic agriculture is based on four ethical principles, which express the contribution that organic agriculture can make to the world, and a vision to improve all agriculture in a global context. 

These principles are the roots from which organic agriculture grows and develops.

The principle of health

Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible.

The principle of fairness

Organic Agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities

The principle of ecology

Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.

The principle of care

Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.

The full explanation of the four principles and PDF downloads in nineteen languages are available on IFOAM’s website




The Principles of Organic Agriculture are the result of a two year long, open and very comprehensive process undertaken by IFOAM, the world organization for organic agriculture, in 2003-2005.

A Task Force on Rewriting the Principles of Organic Agriculture was appointed to prepare draft principles and carry out four world-wide rounds of consultation with stakeholders within and outside organic agriculture.

Hugo F. Alrøe, senior scientist at ICROFS, was a member of the Task Force, which had eight members from six continents.