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Research from the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) has cast

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Research from the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) has cast  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Dec 2019, 20:40
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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 479, Date: 28-Nov-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details


Research from the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) has cast doubt on links between bee population declines and a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids. 'Neo-nics' have been a controversial topic of late. In January, Europe's food-safety body said that they may pose a risk to honeybees, but an attempt to ban the use of three such compounds — clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam — across the European Union hit roadblocks this month when it was rejected in a vote by member states. Campaigners hope that ending the use of these compounds could help to arrest declines seen in some bee populations across the globe.

The field trial run by FERA has failed to find any “clear consistent relationship” between neonicotinoid residues and the size of bumblebee colonies or the number of new queens they produce. According to the study, which involved assessing the health of colonies near crops grown from seeds that were treated with clothianidin and imidacloprid, the absence of these effects is reassuring but not definitive. A related publication by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) says that there is a growing body of evidence that neonicotinoids do not exert an effect under conditions where bees can forage naturally. According to DEFRA, the doses of neonicotinoids presented to bees under laboratory or semi-field conditions were unrealistically high. This suggests that the dosing studies in the laboratory that have linked the insecticides to an impact on bee health at less-than-lethal doses did not replicate realistic conditions, but extreme scenarios in a field situation.

According to Lynn Dicks, a conservation researcher at the University of Cambridge, there is no doubt that the proposed restriction on the use of these neonicotinoids on nectar-and pollen-rich crops such as oilseed rape will reduce a potentially serious risk to bees. It seems a crucial step towards reversing or halting observed declines in certain bees and other flower-feeders. But other environmental campaigners have framed the problem as one of the very survival of an unspecified number of bee species. The assertion that a ban on neonicotinoids will save bees from extinction is absurd. There are bee species around the world in genuine danger of extinction, such as the once-common rusty-patched bumblebee in the United States, which has vanished from 87% of its historic range since the early 1990s. Diseases, rather than insecticides, are suspected of driving that decline.


1. The author of the passage is primarily concerned with

A. analyzing the relationship between neonicotinoids and the health of bee populations globally
B. highlighting the weaknesses of the neonicotinoid-dosing studies conducted in laboratories
C. summarizing various studies and perspectives on the effect of neonicotinoids on bee populations
D. describing various viewpoints about the effect of insecticides on bee populations
E. offering evidence that diseases, rather than insecticides, are the cause of the decline in bee populations



2. The passage supports which of the following statements about the decline of bee populations?

A. Restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids on nectar-and pollen-rich crops will help in reversing or halting declines in populations of other flower-feeders apart from bees
B. Neonicotinoid residues have a small adverse effect on the size of bumblebee colonies and the number of new queens they produce
C. The unrealistically high doses of neonicotinoids presented to bees under laboratory or semi-field conditions were responsible for the bees’ population decline
D. An unspecified number of bee species across the globe are in genuine danger of extinction due to the use of clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam
E. According to FERA, the population of honeybee colonies near crops grown from seeds that were treated with clothianidin and imidacloprid remained unaffected



3. It can be inferred from the passage that the author of the passage is most likely to agree with which of the following about a proposal to ban neonicotinoids?

A. Bee species that forage on crops that are not rich in nectar and pollen may be adversely affected
B. It may help reduce a potential risk to certain bee populations, but will not save bees from extinction
C. Bee diseases that are caused by chemical crop fertilizers, and which, in turn, result in the decline of bee populations, are likely to decrease
D. The population of bumblebee colonies that are near crops grown from seeds that were previously treated with clothianidin and imidacloprid will no longer be at risk of extinction
E. If field conditions had been realistically replicated in the dosing studies, a clearer and more consistent relationship between neonicotinoids and bee populations would have emerged



4. Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the author’s conclusion that the assertion that a ban on neonicotinoids will save bees from extinction is absurd?

A. Most of the bee diseases affecting bee populations are indirectly caused by the use of insecticides on the crops that these bees forage on
B. Neonicotinoids are responsible for the decline in populations of more bee species than any other class of insecticides
C. Over 70% of seed crops all over the world, and over 90% of those in the US and Europe, use neonicotinoids as insecticides
D. Recent laboratory dosing studies that replicated field conditions exactly have revealed that neonicotinoids have a significant effect on bumblebee populations
E. Most of the diseases that threaten to extinguish bee populations increase in fatality if neonicotinoids are used on the crops that these bees feed on

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Re: Research from the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) has cast  [#permalink]

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Re: Research from the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) has cast  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Dec 2019, 02:10
Can you please share the explanations for questions 2 and 4?
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Re: Research from the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) has cast  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Dec 2019, 23:57
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1. C

Option A: the author does not analyze the relationship. Option B: One weakness is mentioned, that too, in passing – not the primary purpose. Option D: Focus is on neonicotinoids and not insecticides. Option E: This statement is made, but no evidence is offered. In any case, this is a passing mention and not the primary objective.

2. A

The answer can be obtained from lines 20-21. Option B: the opposite has been mentioned in line 8. Option C: Clearly incorrect as a lab study cannot affect the general bee population. Option D: This is mentioned in the last para and the cause attributed is disease, and not neonicotinoids. Option E: The FERA study mentions bumblebees and not honeybees.

3. B

The author's opinion is evident in lines 20-23. This is also echoed in option B. Option A: We don't know anything about bees that forage on non-nectar/pollen crops and definitely cannot say that they will be adversely affected if neonics are banned. Option C: We DKCS anything about diseases caused due to crop fertilizers. Option D: We cannot say definitely that these bumblebees will no longer be under threat of extinction if neonics are banned – we DKCS anything about other factors that may contribute to their extinction. Option E: This tells us nothing about the author's opinion about the ban. Also, it does not specify what relationship will emerge – do the neonics have a significant negative effect or not?

4. E

The author says that the assertion that a ban on neonicotinoids will save bees from extinction is absurd. The reason for this statement is that there are many bee populations under threat of extinction because of diseases and not insecticides. Our objective is to pick an answer choice that shows that a ban of neonics may not be such an absurd idea after all, and that it may help in some way to prevent bee populations from extinction. Option A: Is too broad – just says 'bee diseases' (could be minor ones too) and 'insecticides' rather than neonics. Option B: A comparison of neonics with other insecticides does not tell us how a ban may help, especially as 'more' is a vague measure.Option C: Statistics about how many crops use neonics do not help weaken the author's conclusion. Option D: Does not specify what effect this is – positive or negative? Secondly, mentions only bumble bee population. Option E: Weakens the evidence on which the author's conclusion is based. If the diseases that threaten bee populations become more fatal when coupled with the use of neonics, the negative effect is enhanced. So, a ban on neonics may actually help.
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Re: Research from the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) has cast   [#permalink] 15 Dec 2019, 23:57
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