People watch slurry, manure and tyres dumped by farmers at the entrance of the local state administration building, in Agen, southwestern France, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. French farmers have vowed to continue protesting and are maintaining traffic barricades on some of the country’s major roads.
PARIS — Two climate activists hurled soup Sunday 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 against several issues, including low wages.
In a video posted on social media, two women with the words “FOOD RIPOSTE” written on their t-shirts could be seen passing under a security barrier to get closer to the painting and throwing soup at the glass protecting Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece.
“What’s the most important thing?” they shouted. “Art, or right to a healthy and sustainable food?”
“Our farming system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work,” they added.
The Louvre employees could then be seen putting black panels in front of the Mona Lisa and asking visitors to evacuate the room.
Paris police said two people were arrested following the incident.
On its website, the “Food Riposte” group said the French government is breaking its climate commitments and called for the equivalent of the country’s state-sponsored health care system to be put in place to give people better access to healthy food while providing farmers a decent income.
Angry French farmers have been using their tractors for days to set up road blockades and slow traffic across France to seek better remuneration for their produce, less red tape and protection against cheap imports. They also dumped stinky agricultural waste at the gates of government offices.
On Friday, the government announced a series of measures that farmers said do not fully address their demands. Those include “drastically simplifying” certain technical procedures and the progressive end to diesel fuel taxes for farm vehicles.
Some farmers threatened to converge on Paris, starting Monday, to block the main roads leading to the capital.
New Prime Minister Gabriel Attal visited a farm on Sunday in the central region of Indre-et-Loire. He acknowledged farmers are in a difficult position because “on the one side we say ‘we need quality’ and on the other side ‘we want ever-lower prices’.”
“What’s at stake is finding solutions in the short, middle and long term,” he said, ” because we need our farmers.”
Attal also said his government is considering “additional” measures against what he called “unfair competition” from other countries that have different production rules and are importing food to France.
He promised “other decisions” to be made in the coming weeks to address farmers’ concerns.