Brazilian politician Kátia Abreu leads agricultural lobbying in loosening controls on Amazon deforestation. She wants to make Brazil a powerhouse in the exportation of soy products, a plan which will require deforestation to take place, unless it can be carefully controlled in areas like Minas Gerais’ Triângulo Mineiro.
Here are the highlights from her interview with The Guardian about a country in which more environmental activists are murdered than anywhere else in the world.
“Running for president is not a plan – it is fate. Criticism from radical environmentalists is the best form of endorsement. It gives me satisfaction. It shows I am on the right track and playing the right role.”
“We have all the essential elements: abundant water, advanced technology and plenty of land for production. Based on this, we can become number one without cutting down trees.”
She alleges environmentalists, indigenous groups and landless peasants are working for foreign interests. “I don’t have concrete proof of this but I get a very strong impression that this is the case.”
“Forty years ago, the average Brazilian spent 50% of his or her income on food. Now the proportion is about 18%.”
“For many years, environmentalism reached an extreme pitch and we in the agribusiness sector were treated like criminals. Now, our agribusiness sector can influence the choice of kings and queens in Brazil. In the past, we only exercised economic influence. Now we also have political power.”
Most chillingly, Abreu said:
“We cannot rest on our laurels. There are many things holding back progress – the environmental issue, the Indian issue and more. But even with these problems we keep producing high levels of productivity. Imagine how high it might be without those obstacles.”