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Nature and nature values in organic agriculture. An analysis of contested concepts and values among different actors in organic farming

By L. Hansen, E. Noe, K. Hojring

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The relationship between agriculture and nature is a central issue in the current agricultural debate. Organic farming has ambitions and a special potential in relation to nature. Consideration for nature is part of the guiding principals of organic farming and many organic farmers are committed to protecting natural qualities. However, the issue of nature, landscape, and land use is not straightforward. Nature is an ambiguous concept that involves multiple interests and actors reaching far beyond farmers. The Danish research project Nature Quality in Organic Farming has investigated the relationship between nature and organic farming. This article will focus on an expert workshop held in connection with the project that investigates the way different actors conceptualize nature. Farmers, scientists, and non-governmental organizations came together to discuss their experiences of nature and expectations of organic agriculture. From this interaction, it was clear that nature is a contested notion. Different understandings of nature exist within the three groups and there is disagreement as to whether emphasis should be given to biological qualities, production values, or experiential and aesthetic perspectives. This complexity provides a challenge to organic farming as well as to the implementation of nature considerations in general. It illustrates an underlying battle for the right to define nature and nature quality and essentially decide what organic farmers should work towards. We argue that successful implementation requires organic farmers to carefully consider what expectations they wish to meet. Optimally it is dependent on a dialogue between stakeholder interest groups that allows for multivocality and pluralism.

Date 2006
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 19
Issue 2
Pages 147-168
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
DOI 10.1007/s10806-005-1804-y
Language English
Author Address Department of Agroecology, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences Research Centre Foulum, P.O. Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal husbandry
  2. Attitudes
  3. Denmark
  4. Developed countries
  5. Ecological agriculture
  6. Environment
  7. Europe
  8. natural resources
  9. OECD countries
  10. organic culture
  11. organic farming
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. Plants
  14. Scandinavia
  15. Social psychology and social anthropology
  16. social values
  17. stakeholders
  1. peer-reviewed