The role of the concept of the natural (naturalness) in organic farming

Producers, traders, and consumers oforganic food regularly use the concept of thenatural (naturalness) to characterize organicagriculture and or organic food, in contrast tothe unnaturalness of conventional agriculture.Critics sometimes argue that such use lacks anyrational (scientific) basis and only refers tosentiment. In our project, we made an attemptto clarify the content and the use of theconcepts of nature and naturalness in organicagriculture, to relate this conception todiscussions within bioethical literature, andto draw the implications for agriculturalpractice and policy.Qualitative interviews were executed with arange of people in the field of organicagriculture and with consumers of organicproducts, on the basis of a list of statementsabout the meaning of the concept of naturalnessformulated by the authors. Based on the resultsof the interviews, we distinguished 3 aspectsof the concept of naturalness: natural as theorganic (life processes), natural as theecological, and natural as referring to thecharacteristic nature of an entity. We relatedthese conceptual aspects to three mainapproaches within the field of organicagriculture: the no chemicals approach, theagro-ecological approach, and the integrityapproach. It became clear that these approachescan also be recognized in the change ofattitude of farmers as they convert fromconventional to organic agriculture, and in theattitudes of consumers of organic foodproducts.
Keywords concept of nature and naturalness  environment  ethics  farm ecology  integrity of life  organic agriculture and food
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1021714632012
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Dimensions of Naturalness.Helena Siipi - 2008 - Ethics and the Environment 13 (1):pp. 71-103.

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