Malaysia recovers palm oil sales

MALAYSIAN exports of palm oil to the US are on the rebound. They shot up to 200,000 tonnes in 1992 -- double the 1989 level -- in the wake of a counter-offensive against propaganda that saturated fat from palm oil could induce heart failure.

In 1987, the American Soyabean Association launched a campaign that branded palm oil as dangerous to health. By 1989, Malaysia's palm oil sales to the US declined by 66 per cent to 100,000 tonnes in 1989.

In response, the Malaysian Palm Oil Promotion Council was established in 1990 and a panel of experts was invited to determine whether palm oil was dangerous. The panel noted that a 1987 study showed blood cholesterol dropped 7 per cent to 38 per cent with a switch in diet from a fatty diet to palm oil.

Council chief Murad Hashim, however, voiced a conciliatory note: "There's enough room for everybody and no need to fight one another."