PARIS (AP) — Two climate activists on Sunday threw soup at the glass protecting the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum in Paris and shouted slogans advocating for a sustainable food system. This came amid protests by French farmers over various issues, including low wages.
In a video posted on social media, two women with the words “FOOD RIPOSTE” written on their T-shirts were seen walking under a security barrier to get closer to the painting and throwing soup onto the glass, which was Leonardo da Vinci's Masterpiece protected.
“What’s the most important thing?” They shouted. “Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food?”
“Our agricultural system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work,” they added.
Louvre staff were then seen putting up black plaques in front of the Mona Lisa, asking visitors to vacate the room.
According to the Paris police, two people were arrested after the incident.
On its website, the Food Riposte group said the French government was breaking its climate commitments and called for the creation of an equivalent to the country's state-funded healthcare system to give people better access to healthy food while providing farmers with better care to enable regular income.
Angry French farmers have been using their tractors to set up road blockades and slow traffic across France for days, seeking better compensation for their produce, less bureaucracy and protection from cheap imports. They also dumped smelly agricultural waste outside the gates of government offices.
On Friday, the government announced a series of measures that farmers said did not fully address their demands. These include the “drastic simplification” of certain technical procedures and the gradual abolition of diesel tax for agricultural vehicles.
Some farmers threatened to march in Paris from Monday and block main roads into the capital.
New Prime Minister Gabriel Attal visited a farm in the central Indre-et-Loire region on Sunday. He acknowledged that farmers are in a difficult position because “on the one hand we say 'we need quality' and on the other hand 'we want ever lower prices'.”
“It’s about finding short, medium and long-term solutions,” he said, “because we need our farmers.”
Attal also said his government was considering “additional” measures against what he called “unfair competition” from other countries that have different production rules and import food into France.
He promised to make “further decisions” in the coming weeks to address farmers’ concerns.