"The law, which eases restrictions for forest set-asides on farms and waives some fines for past clear-cutting, was backed by a new generation of lawmakers with links to Brazil's economically vital rural hinterlands. Farmers there long complained that existing laws were so strict as to classify the majority of farms as illegal and their owners as criminals."
"At the heart of the bid to update the law is an unsettling fact for environmental groups: Much of the Amazon forest slashed and burned in past decades is today extremely productive farmland."
"The controversies reflect a broader political dilemma for President Dilma Rousseff. Many of her left-wing Workers Party supporters also back environmental causes. At the same time, her administration is seeking to develop Brazil's vast natural resources to speed growth and help fund programs to lift millions of poor into the middle class."