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# To many environmentalists, the extinction of plants—accompanied by the

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Joined: 02 Sep 2009
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To many environmentalists, the extinction of plants—accompanied by the  [#permalink]

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04 Mar 2019, 23:32
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55% (hard)

Question Stats:

60% (01:59) correct 40% (02:37) wrong based on 121 sessions

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To many environmentalists, the extinction of plants—accompanied by the increasing genetic uniformity of food crops—is the single most serious environmental problem. Something must be done to prevent the loss of wild food plants or no-longer-cultivated food plants. Otherwise, the lack of genetic food diversity could allow for significant portions of major crops to be destroyed overnight. In 1970, for example, southern leaf blight destroyed approximately 20 percent of the United States corn crop, leaving very few varieties of corn unaffected, in the areas over which the disease spread.

Which of the following can be inferred from the passage above?

A. Susceptibility to certain plant diseases is genetically determined.

B. Eighty percent of the corn grown in the United States is completely resistant to southern leaf blight.

C. The extinction of wild food plants can be traced back definitively to destructive plant diseases.

D. Plant breeders must focus on developing plants that are resistant to plant disease.

E. Corn is the only food crop threatened by southern leaf blight

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Re: To many environmentalists, the extinction of plants—accompanied by the  [#permalink]

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06 Mar 2019, 23:20
Bunuel wrote:
To many environmentalists, the extinction of plants—accompanied by the increasing genetic uniformity of food crops—is the single most serious environmental problem. Something must be done to prevent the loss of wild food plants or no-longer-cultivated food plants. Otherwise, the lack of genetic food diversity could allow for significant portions of major crops to be destroyed overnight. In 1970, for example, southern leaf blight destroyed approximately 20 percent of the United States corn crop, leaving very few varieties of corn unaffected, in the areas over which the disease spread.

Which of the following can be inferred from the passage above?

A. Susceptibility to certain plant diseases is genetically determined.

B. Eighty percent of the corn grown in the United States is completely resistant to southern leaf blight.

C. The extinction of wild food plants can be traced back definitively to destructive plant diseases.

D. Plant breeders must focus on developing plants that are resistant to plant disease.

E. Corn is the only food crop threatened by southern leaf blight

OFFICIAL EXPLANATION:

Step 1: Read the Question. This question is an example of a type of question we call Inference. Much like the Inference questions in reading comprehension portions of the test, these questions ask you not to deduce, but to actually point to something in the passage.

Step 2: Break It Down. Since arguments with Inference questions have an extremely narrow scope, read them even more closely than you usually would. As you break down the argument in these types of questions, you may or may not find an actual point. Focus instead on the scope of the argument, the facts presented, and how they fit together.

Step 3: Answer the Question in Your Own Words. Because Inference questions hinge on what you know to be true from the facts in the argument, it is hard to anticipate what a good answer choice will look like, or even to state the answer in your own words. But the understanding you gained of the argument’s scope and supporting facts will be enough to get you through your POE.

Step 4: Apply Process of Elimination. You will need to read each answer choice very closely, keeping in mind that the only thing you know about corn, food crops, and southern leaf blight is what you’ve read in the argument. When eliminating answer choices, ask yourself, “Do I know this?” If you cannot actually point to the information from the answer choice somewhere in the argument, you should eliminate it. Also eliminate answer choices that are outside the scope of the argument or that contain extreme wording.

In the preceding argument, the scope is a very narrow discussion of the causes of destruction of food crops. Although the first sentence sets the stage for the topic, it
does little more than that. The argument presents a concern about a lack of genetic food diversity and its effect on the long-term health of food crops. An example about the southern leaf blight of 1970 is presented to strengthen the argument.

Keeping that in mind, let’s look through the answer choices.

[*] Susceptibility to certain plant diseases is genetically determined.

Well, maybe. The argument does say, “the lack of genetic diversity could allow a significant portion of a major crop to be destroyed overnight.” It isn’t great, but we’ll
keep this answer choice for now.

[*] Eighty percent of the corn grown in the United States is completely resistant to southern leaf blight.

No. There are a couple of reasons that this answer choice is no good. First of all, we cannot possibly know that a crop is completely resistant to southern leaf blight. Completely is an example of the kind of extreme wording that allows us to eliminate an answer choice. Furthermore, watch out for traps like this one: Just because you know that 20 percent of the U.S. corn crop was destroyed in 1970 doesn’t mean that the 80 percent remaining was resistant. Eliminate it.

[*] The extinction of wild food plants can be traced back definitively to destructive plant diseases.

No. Again, watch out for extreme wording. Do we know that this is true in all cases, based on the facts in the argument? No, we don’t. As we mentioned, extreme wording like this needs only one counterexample to prove it false, so this is the kind of answer choice GMAC will not credit. Eliminate it.

[*] Plant breeders must focus on developing plants that are resistant to plant disease.

No. What plant breeders actually do is outside the scope of the argument—the argument states only that “Something must be done …” Also, watch out for that extreme wording—answer choices that predict the future or mandate a course of action are too extreme to be the credited response. Eliminate it.

[*] Corn is the only food crop threatened by southern leaf blight.

No. Isn’t it extreme to say that corn was the only plant threatened by southern leaf blight? We know that corn was affected, but we don’t know if the other plants on the planet were, so eliminate it.

This leaves us with choice (A). Admittedly, not the most flashy or exciting thing about the argument, but definitely something we can point to as true. This is the way Inference questions typically work—you’ll have to rely heavily on POE, because the best answer rarely jumps out at you; it’s most often just an incidental fact or paraphrase.
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Re: To many environmentalists, the extinction of plants—accompanied by the   [#permalink] 06 Mar 2019, 23:20
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# To many environmentalists, the extinction of plants—accompanied by the

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