Brazil's new Agriculture Minister Katia Abreu, nicknamed the "chainsaw queen" by environmentalists for what they've called her promotion of deforestation, strongly batted down such criticism as sexist given she's the first woman to hold the post.

Before being named minister, Sen. Abreu was the main figure in the powerful congressional lobby representing farmers and cattle ranchers that succeeded in weakening Brazil's forest code, the environmental law protecting the rainforest.

Greenpeace presented Abreu with its symbolic "Golden Chainsaw" award as criticism for her role in weakening that forest code.

On Thursday, Abreu told a small group of foreign journalists that she and her predecessors over the past 12 years thought alike, "so I think that (behind the criticisms levied against her) there is an element of machismo, a bias against women."