The consequences of the concept of naturalness for organic plant breeding and propagation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Organic agriculture is enhancing specific plant breeding activities to meet its requirements for varieties better adapted to the specific organic environment. In the past five years, therefore, attempts have been made to translate the principles of organic farming into rules, regulations and guidelines for organic plant breeding and propagation. These principles are based on the concept of naturalness, which includes three complementary approaches: the non-chemical approach, the agro-ecological approach and the integrity approach. Departing from the concept of naturalness, criteria have been developed to evaluate existing plant breeding and propagation techniques for their compliance to the principles of organic agriculture. Each of the three approaches of the concept of naturalness has major consequences. If these consequences are taken seriously, plant breeding and propagation strategies and techniques for organic farming will greatly differ from breeding and propagation for conventional farming. To better understand the choices to be made and to make them acceptable to the mainstream seed industry, it is necessary to further clarify the underlying framework. This paper provides this clarification by analysing the cognitive, emotive, and normative dimensions of the three approaches. Distinguishing the three different approaches of naturalness in organic agriculture, as well as their three dimensions, and analysing the consequences for the breeding and propagation strategies and techniques can also help to identify and prioritize short-term and long-term steps for the practical development of organic seed production and plant breeding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-95
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • organic farming
  • improvement
  • standards
  • plant breeding
  • agroecology


Dive into the research topics of 'The consequences of the concept of naturalness for organic plant breeding and propagation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this