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Soup Attack on Mona Lisa Spotlights French Farmers’ Struggle for Fair Food System

On Sunday, two environmental activists targeted the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum in Paris, throwing soup at the protective glass and voicing demands for better food systems. This act was part of wider demonstrations by French farmers over various grievances, including inadequate pay.

A video shared online showed two individuals, wearing shirts emblazoned with “FOOD RIPOSTE,” breaching a security barrier near Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting and dousing its protective glass with soup.

Their rallying cry questioned the value of art compared to the right to nutritious and eco-friendly food. They emphasized the dire state of agriculture and the hardships faced by farmers.

Following the incident, Louvre staff swiftly shielded the Mona Lisa and directed visitors to leave the area. Parisian authorities reported the arrest of the two protesters.

The “Food Riposte” organization, via their website, criticized the French government for failing to honor climate commitments. They advocate for a system akin to national health care, ensuring accessible healthy food and fair compensation for farmers.

In response to their grievances, French farmers have been obstructing roads nationwide with tractors, demanding fair prices for their produce, fewer bureaucratic hurdles, and safeguards against inexpensive imports. Some have even resorted to dumping agricultural waste outside government buildings.

Although the government introduced measures on Friday aimed at easing farmers’ challenges, including simplifying certain processes and gradually eliminating diesel taxes for agricultural vehicles, farmers believe these steps fall short of their needs.

Some farmers have threatened to escalate their protests by blocking major routes into Paris starting Monday.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Gabriel Attal visited a farm in Indre-et-Loire on Sunday, recognizing the tough predicament farmers face due to demands for both quality and low prices. He stressed the importance of finding immediate and long-term solutions, emphasizing the nation’s dependence on its farmers.

Attal also mentioned that the government is considering further actions to counter “unfair competition” from countries with different production standards exporting food to France. He assured that additional decisions to alleviate farmers’ concerns would be forthcoming.

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