Forest Code: Dilma Rousseff vetoes parts of Brazil's new law


A photo released by Brazil's environment ministry shows a deforested area in the rain forest in the southern Para state.


Jefferson Ruddy

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Friday vetoed 12 articles of the country's controversial Forest Code, which regulates how much land farmers must preserve as forest.

Environmentalists wanted more, calling for a veto of the entire bill, and saying any weakening of the law would put the Amazon rainforest at risk, reported the Associated Press. Government officials said the partial veto was enough to keep Brazil on track with protecting the world's largest rainforest and other biomes.

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"It's the code of those who believe it's possible to produce food and preserve the environment," Agriculture Minister Jorge Ribeiro Mendes told the AP.

Rousseff's decision came less than a month before Rio de Janeiro is set to host a UN summit on sustainable development, according to CNN. Many Brazilians protested across the country to stop the Forest Code, circulating a petition and collecting 1.9 million signatures. Rousseff decided to opt for a line-item veto, eliminating articles that many said would give amnesty to those who had illegally cleared land.

The details of the Forest Code's revision have not yet been made public, but Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the government wanted to avoid diminishing protected parts of the Amazon, reported BBC News. Had the articles not been vetoed, the bill would have allowed for large areas of Brazil, which had been illegally logged before July 2008, to be opened to farming. It would also have allowed farming closer to riverbanks, but Rousseff's rejection of certain articles ensured their protection.