A mix of pineapple, PETA, mouse-shaped vegan chocolates and Mayo Clinic recently resulted in longtime funding being taken away from a Mayo nutrition researcher.

In 1990, Dole Food Co., at the behest of its Chairman of the Board David Murdock, funded a professorship at Mayo Clinic to study nutrition. Murdock, who is 97 and a longtime Mayo Clinic patient, is very passionate about nutrition.

While the fruit giant Dole created the program, it was left to Mayo to manage it.

“This endowment was created 30 years ago, and Dole has had no active management nor involvement in it since it was created,” stated Dole Director of Communications William Goldfield. He did not share financial details about the endowment.

Dr. K. Sreekumaran Nair served as the most recent David Murdock/Dole Food Co. Chair of Nutrition at Mayo Clinic.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, recently came across records of Nair using mice in his research. The records show more than 100 mice died due to his experiments in the past four years.

PETA describes the research involving force feeding, inducing diabetes, electrocution and forcing mice to swim with weights tied to their tails as “gruesome.”

Bob Nellis of Mayo Clinic refuted that opinion, stating, “Mayo Clinic’s and Dr. Nair’s research is conducted in accordance with FDA, National Institutes of Health and Animal Welfare Act regulations and follows strict ethical guidelines.”

While Mayo Clinic supports Nair's research, PETA contacted Dole in June to tell the company about Nair’s use of animals in his research. Animals are another passion of Murdock's.

“Dole does not fund, conduct, nor support tests on animals, and the issue is not material to our operation or any research that we are directly involved in,” Goldfield explained.

Dole reached out to Mayo Clinic, which responded by redirecting Dole’s dollars in July.

“To honor the intended purpose of Dole’s philanthropic support, Mayo Clinic and Dole agreed that the funding provided by this gift will not be used for any animal-involved research. Dole’s philanthropic support will continue to advance nutrition research that seeks to meet the unmet needs of patients,” wrote Nellis.

While Nair no longer receives funding from Dole, he remains chairman of Mayo Clinic’s nutrition department.

As for PETA, it … “applauds the Dole Food Co. for embracing superior science that doesn’t use animals and sent it a box of mouse-shaped vegan chocolates as a thank-you for taking swift action to help end these grisly experiments.”

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger. You can call him at 507-285-7798.