Brazilian supermodel and environmental activist Gisele Bundchen fired back at a top official with the country’s government after she was accused of being a “bad Brazilian” for her work on conservation of the rainforest.
On Monday, Brazil’s Agricultural Minister Tereza Cristina Dias called out Bundchen’s brand of activism during a radio interview in which she called the supermodel a “bad Brazilian” for denouncing deforestation and tainting the country’s image abroad. Instead, Dias suggested she promote Brazli’s agriculture and industries.
Bundchen wrote a measured response in Portuguese on her Twitter late Wednesday, saying she would "be happy to announce positive actions" taken toward sustainable development.
In her letter, Bundchen said she was surprised by the derogatory mention. She said her criticisms, which included a series of tweets last year, were based on science and came from a "worried Brazilian citizen."
Citing a 13 percent increase in deforestation in Brazil, Bundchen said those behind illegal land occupations were the "bad Brazilians."
The feud stems from the fact that a lot of international attention is being paid to the Amazon, a majority of which is n Brazil. There are fears among both Brazilians and the international environmental community that the administration Dias is a part of is not doing enough and may even roll back environmental protections. Many fear this will be a key loss in the battle against climate change.
The administration, meanwhile, believes that the Amazon should be less regulated to make room for agricultural growth and other industries.
During the radio interview, the agriculture minister, nicknamed Bundchen the "queen of poison" for pushing for legislation in Congress to loosen rules for pesticide use, was asked about the "PR problems" that have come from the model's activism.
"It's absurd what they do today with the image of Brazil," she responded. "For some reason they go out and paint a picture of Brazil and its industries that is not true."
"Sorry, Gisele Bundchen," she continued. "You should be an ambassador and say that your country conserves, that your country is on the global vanguard of conservation, and not go around criticizing Brazil without knowing the facts."
Bundchen responded to the criticism by outlining her 12 years of environmental activism, which earned her a position as an U.N. environment goodwill ambassador. She described her frequent visits to the Amazon and partnerships with leading scientists, academics, activists and companies dedicated to the issue of climate change.
Bundchen encouraged Dias to use technology and scientific knowledge in Brazilian agriculture to avoid further deforestation that could lead Brazil "past the point of no return."
According to The Boston Herald, Bundchen’s husband, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, took to Instagram to seemingly defend his wife amid the feud. He reportedly posted to his Instagram stories a photo of Bundchen posing in the rainforest with the caption, “Never stop the work you’re doing.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.