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The Whirling Dervishes and the spin surrounding palm oil!

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Written By Brittany Dickerson
Friday, 26 April 2013


It was early December and a Saturday evening in Konya, Turkey. Our tour bus pulls up at a lit up building shaped like a cone. It was the Mevlana Cultural Center and it is located near the Mevlana Museum. Entrance is free and we are handed leaflets explaining Mevlana history. We are there to catch the performance of the whirling dervishes. Soon the sufis appeared wearing their camel hair hats and white skirt like robes and began twirling around the stage in eccentric circles with one palm held over their heads and the other on their waist or by their side. With mystical music the twirling continued with the skirts swishing and taking on an ever increasing and graceful arc. Reading the leaflet, we learnt that it was not a dance but a religious ceremony and every movement of the hand carried a meaning. 
My mind began to wander off after about half an hour as I watched the Sufis spinning ever so slowly but unrelentingly. It struck me how the spin put out on palm oil by environmental groups like the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) are in form and substance, so similar to the spinning of the whirling dervishes!
The stories spun by RAN and others of their ilk range from the ridiculous to the downright scandalous! For instance, RAN had to sheepishly remove from their website the ludicrous claim that the orang-utan will become extinct by 2011 due to palm oil cultivation. The trouble was 2011 came along and the orang-utan population in the wild appeared to be growing instead of going extinct when new tribes of more than 2000 wild apes were found in the East Kalimantan province of Indonesia, as reported by National Geographic (see: With roughly 50,000 orangutans thought to remain in the wild, the new find could add 5 percent to the world’s known orangutan numbers, said Erik Meijaard, senior ecologist for the Nature Conservancy in Indonesia.
Of course, when caught with their foot in their mouth by this site, RAN quickly changed tack and now echoes Dr Ian Singleton’s claim that the orangutan would be extinct within our lifetime. How much cache should be given to RAN and Singleton’s claim?
It must be remembered that Singleton has made a career out of palm oil bashing - in fact he makes a living out of it with his Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program!
A recent interview by Ian Williams and published in Brian William’s NBC Rock Center entitled “Demand for palm oil, used in packaged food products leaves orangutans at risk,” leaves little doubt about the propensity of people like Singleton to indulge in spin to achieve their aims.
Secondly, the penultimate para of Ian Williams’ story gives Singleton's game away: 
“Now they have a second chance of spending 30 or 40 years in the wild, and of having four or five babies,” he told me as we tracked some recently released orangutans days later. There was a sudden movement of red fur through the thick forest canopy above us."
What? Pristine forests remain? No palm oil companies? No "charred wilderness?" No "distant sound of chainsaws" now that he's releasing his beloved orangutans back into the wild?
Italian civil libertarian group, Libertiamo has blown the lid off the entire elaborate, cynical and vicious scheme masterminded by the Environmental Directorate of the European Commission (EC) to protect the EU’s own indigenous edible oilseed industries which are unable to compete against the hyper yielding palm oil in the open market! (Vide:
That by itself is already a blot on the good name of some of the prominent European countries which are signatories of the WTO treaty, but what really disappoints is that Libertiamo points out that the EC is fully aware that most of the anti-palm oil campaigns are spin based on “manufactured” and false evidence! THE END
GeneralG  29. April 2013 at 08:28 am

Yes I can see the spin now by RAN on palm oil!

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