Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff came under enormous pressure Thursday from environmentalists to veto a new forestry bill they fear will speed up deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
Brazil's powerful agribusiness sector scored a major victory with congressional approval Wednesday of the forestry code reforms, which Rousseff repeatedly promised to veto while on the campaign trail in 2010.
The current code, which dates back to 1965 and which farmers argue is not respected anyway, limits the use of land for farming and mandates that up to 80 percent of privately-owned land in the Amazon rainforest remains intact.
The new bill would allow landowners to cultivate riverbanks and hillsides that were previously exempt, and would provide an amnesty from fines for illegally clearing trees before July 2008.
Farmers, whose industry represent more than five percent of Brazil's GDP, argue that the existing legislation is confused, putting ...