Costa Rican Agrochemist Discredits Organics Shipped to U.S., Then Faces Onslaught of Personal Attacks

Note: This is the third in a NerdWallet series examining how food fraudulently certified as organic -- and priced up accordingly -- can make its way to grocers' shelves. The series is republished with permission.SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- He's been called an ignorant person and a bad civil servant, subjected to disciplinary hearings, suspended without pay and accused of embezzlement.You'd think that Jose Miguel Jimenez Mendez, an agrochemist with Costa Rica's Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, must rank high on his nation's Most Wanted list.Yet Jimenez's most heinous crime, his detractors say, was declaring some organic-labeled pineapples fake.In 2016, Jimenez's boss tapped him to investigate a suspicious surplus of organic pineapples. A top U.S. Department of Agriculture manager had alerted Costa Rican officials that somehow their country was exporting far more organic pineapples to the United States than its farms were certified to produce.» Read more about NerdWallet's investigation of fraudulent organicsJimenez concluded that Del Valle Verde Corp., a large northern Costa Rica grower and processor, had illegally shipped containers that commingled organic and conventionally grown fruit. He pointed to gaps and inconsistencies in Valle Verde's farming operations, such as a lack of chemical tests and shifting sizes of plots transitioning to organic.  Continue reading...

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