[05/21/10] MST Informa #183: In Defense of Environmental Conservation

At the beginning of June, the special parliamentary committee which is discussing changes to the Forest Code should issue its final report of changes in the legislation. Because of the absence of a full debate, we denounce the report as serving only the interests of the rural caucus. They are planning to consolidate the deforestation that they have already promoted the in the Cerrado, Mata Atlantica, and Caatinga Pampas and which is advancing the destruction of the Amazon. The Forest Code puts limits on the advance of agribusiness, because it imposes limits on the environmental devastation caused by agricultural activity, by applying of the Legal Reserve (RL) and the Permanent Preservation Areas (APP). The legal reserve is 80% in Amazonia, 35%, 20% in the Cerrado and other properties. The impacts of environmental destruction are felt everywhere, not only in regions directly destroyed. A recent example is the death of more than 200 employees and workers of the poorest parts of Rio de Janeiro, due to heavy rains that hit the state in early April. The main victims were families living on the hills because of the lack of a housing program that meets the needs of the whole population. The consequences of environmental imbalances fall mainly on the poorest. Climate change and natural disasters have their roots in the way production is organized, under the hegemony of large corporations and financial capital. These activities are not in tune with nature and weaken the ecosystem, to ensure a greater accumulation of capital. The relaxation of environmental legislation supported by the rural caucus is of interest to agribusiness, transnational agricultural corporations and financial capital. The Brazilian Forest Code was established in 1934 by the government of Getulio Vargas as a way to regulate the expansion of farming to forest areas,. In 1965, the Code was modified by the military government to put limits on deforestation that would be caused by the implementation of its program of colonization of the Amazon. In 2001, by means of a Provisional Measure, the Cardoso government made the last major modification of the Code, allowing the establishment of major projects that were of of interest to capital. However, the requirements in terms of areas and percentages for Permanent Preservation Areas and Legal Reserves remained in place. Those are the parts of the law that agribusiness wants to eliminate. The code also preserves areas along rivers or any body of water, around ponds, lakes or reservoir water, natural or artificial, on top of hills, mountains, hills and mountains and at any altitude higher than 1800 meters, regardless of vegetation. The Forest Code was kept alive until now because of the struggle of Brazilians, defending the environment and nature, which is a strategic asset of the people. Even so, the law was never respected by governments or by agribusiness. Until now, the rural sector acts as follows: ignore the stipulations of the Forestry Code to bring down the forests, when they are caught with a chainsaw in their hands, blame the rigidity of existing legislation and, finally, mobilize their parliamentarians to topple these " obstacles. " La Via Campesina has put out proposals for a thorough environmental program for the Brazilian countryside. Before doing anything else, we advocate the maintenance of the Forest Code, which must be fulfilled in order to implement a sustainable peasant agriculture. We are part of the campaign for "zero deforestation" to stop forest devastation immediately. For areas of agrarian reform, we propose a broad program for reforestation with native trees, the implementation of agro-forests and a program of environmental education. The interests of the rural right wing caucus to move their tractors into forests and their creation of a parliamentary commission of inquiry against agrarian reform are two sides of the same coin. While working hard to relax environmental legislation to immediately expand capital in our territory, they maintain an efficient policy tool (the CPMI) to carry out the ideological struggle against the social movements, and to paralyze Agrarian Reform and prevent any resistance to our project for Brazilian agriculture. We are linking up with other social movements and environmentalists to prevent this maneuver against the environment if it approved by the conservative sectors. We advocate the integration of forestry and the production of healthy food for the population of the country. National Secretariat of the MST