In a bold act of protest at the Louvre Museum in Paris, two climate activists threw soup at the protective glass of the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic masterpiece. The aim was to draw attention to the need for a sustainable food system. This event occurred on Sunday amid ongoing demonstrations by French farmers over various issues, including low wages.
Captured in a social media video, the women, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with “FOOD RIPOSTE,” bypassed a security barrier and hurled soup at the painting’s protective glass. They then shouted, “What’s the most important thing? Art, or the right to a healthy and sustainable food?” emphasizing the dire state of the current farming system and the plight of struggling farmers.
The Louvre staff quickly intervened, placing black panels in front of the Mona Lisa and evacuating visitors from the room. Paris police confirmed the arrest of two individuals following the incident.
This protest comes as French farmers intensify their demonstrations across France, using tractors to create road blockades, slowing traffic, and demanding better compensation for their produce. They are also protesting against excessive bureaucratic hurdles and competition from cheap imports. In an act of frustration, farmers have dumped agricultural waste at government office entrances.
Despite the French government’s recent announcement of measures aimed at addressing some of the farmers’ demands, such as simplifying procedures and gradually ending diesel fuel taxes for farm vehicles, farmers argue these steps are insufficient.
The “Food Riposte” group, responsible for the Mona Lisa protest, has criticized the French government for failing to meet its climate commitments. They advocate for a system akin to France’s state-sponsored healthcare, ensuring access to healthy food for the public and fair income for farmers.
Gabriel Attal, France’s new Prime Minister, visited a farm in the central region of Indre-et-Loire on Sunday, acknowledging the challenging position of farmers who are pressured to produce high-quality products while facing demands for lower prices. Attal emphasized the need for short, medium, and long-term solutions and mentioned the government’s consideration of additional measures against “unfair competition” from countries with different production standards.
As French farmers threaten to converge on Paris, blocking main roads to the capital, Attal promised further decisions in the coming weeks to address their concerns.
This incident at the Louvre and the ongoing farmer protests highlight the complex and intertwined issues of environmental sustainability, agricultural policy, and economic pressures facing the farming community in France. The actions of the climate activists and the farmers reflect a growing urgency to address these challenges for the future of food security and environmental health.