There is ongoing debate among stakeholders about the future development of agricultural and food systems to meet the global challenges of food supply, biological and cultural diversity, climate change, and social justice. Among other options, agroecology and organic agriculture are discussed.

Both have similar goals and use a systems approach; however, they are recognised and received differently by stakeholders. Here we review and compare principles and practices defined and described in EU organic agriculture regulations, International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movement (IFOAM) norms, and agroecology scientific literature. The main finding are as follows: (1) Regarding principles, EU organic regulations mainly focus on appropriate design and management of biological processes based on ecological systems, restriction of external inputs, and strict limitation of chemical inputs. IFOAM principles are very broad and more complete, and include a holistic and systemic vision of sustainability. Agroecology has a defined set of principles for the ecological management of agri-food systems, which also includes some socio-economic principles