Brazilian supermodel turned environmental activist Gisele Bundchen is pushing back against the agricultural minister in her homeland, along the way wading into a growing debate about the future of the Amazon.
The brouhaha began on Monday when Minister Tereza Cristina Dias accused Bundchen of tainting the country's image abroad.
During a radio interview, Dias called the supermodel a "bad Brazilian" for denouncing deforestation and said the model should be promoting Brazil's agriculture and industries.
"Sorry, Gisele Bundchen," Dias said. "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 criticising Brazil without knowing the facts."
Late on Wednesday, Bundchen wrote a measured response, 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 per cent increase in deforestation in Brazil, Bundchen said those behind illegal land occupations were the "bad Brazilians".
The public feud underscores the enormous international attention being focused on the Amazon basin and fears that Bolsonaro's administration is geared to roll back environmental protections.
Home to the lion's share of the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest, Brazil is seen as a key piece in fighting climate change.
But Bolsonaro, a close ally of the agro-business caucus, has garnered the wrath of environmental advocates around the world for his views that the Amazon should be less regulated to make room for agriculture and other industries.
In her letter, the supermodel described over 12 years of environmental activism, which earned her a spot as a UN environment goodwill ambassador.
She said she has visited the Amazon several times, has learned about the reality of Brazil's vast northern rainforest and has collaborated with leading scientists, academics, activists and companies on 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".
Australian Associated Press