- 東南アジア研究 (ISSN:05638682)
- vol.55, no.2, pp.217-239, 2018 (Released:2018-02-09)
Palm oil production has been rapidly increasing in Malaysia and Indonesia because of the strong demand for the cheap and versatile commodity. This increase has become a threat for countries and producers of other vegetable oils, such as France, which produces rapeseed oil, and the United States, which produces soybean oil. Therefore, those countries and producers have tried to impose limits on the import of palm oil, and environmental NGOs—mainly from Western countries—have conducted a series of negative campaigns against palm oil since the late 1990s. The most effective and continuously raised issue is the environmental one. However, the first negative campaign was not about the environment but about health. That campaign originated with US soybean producers in the early 1980s. To counter that campaign, the Malaysian government and palm oil producers started a positive one. This paper shows how this “oil war” between US soybean producers and the Malaysian government and palm oil producers started, developed, and ended; and how the Malaysian side created a strategy to fight the war, utilizing scientific data as well as academic networks and pro-small peasant discourse. This experience has become a lesson for Malaysian actors in dealing with the negative campaign about the environmental unfriendliness of palm oil since the late 1990s.