The promise of finding long-term technological solutions to the problem of world food shortages seems difficult to fulfill. Many innovations that were once heavily supported and publicized, such as fish-protein concentrate and protein from algae grown on petroleum substrates, have since fallen by the wayside. The proposals themselves were technically feasible, but they proved to be economically unviable and to yield food products culturally unacceptable to their consumers. Recent innovations such as opaque-2 maize, Antarctic krill, and the wheat-rye hybrid triticale seem more promising, but it is too early to predict their ultimate fate.

One characteristic common to unsuccessful food innovations has been that, even with extensive government support, they often have not been technologically adapted or culturally acceptable to the people for whom they had been developed. A successful new technology, therefore, must fit the entire sociocultural system in which it is to find a place. Security of crop yield, practicality of storage, palatability, and costs are much more significant than had previously been realized by the advocates of new technologies. For example, the better protein quality in tortillas made from opaque-2 maize will be of only limited benefit to a family on the margin of subsistence if the new maize is not culturally acceptable or is more vulnerable to insects.

The adoption of new food technologies depends on more than these technical and cultural considerations; economic factors and governmental policies also strongly influence the ultimate success of any innovation. Economists in the Anglo-American tradition have taken the lead in investigating the economics of technological innovation. Although they exaggerate in claiming that profitability is the key factor guiding technical change—they completely disregard the substantial effects of culture—they are correct in stressing the importance of profits. Most technological innovations in agriculture can be fully used only by large landowners and are only adopted if these profit-oriented business people believe that the innovation will increase their incomes. Thus, innovations that carry high rewards for big agribusiness groups will be adopted even if they harm segments of the population and reduce the availability of food in a country. Further, should a new technology promise to alter substantially the profits and losses associated with any production system, those with economic power will strive to maintain and improve their own positions. Since large segments of the populations of many developing countries are close to the subsistence margin and essentially powerless, they tend to be the losers in this system unless they are aided by a government policy that takes into account the needs of all sectors of the economy. Therefore, although technical advances in food production and processing will perhaps be needed to ensure food availability, meeting food needs will depend much more on equalizing economic power among the various segments of the populations within the developing countries themselves.

1. Which of the following best describes the organization of the first paragraph?

(A) A suggestion is made and arguments in its favor are provided.
(B) A criticism is levied and an alternative proposal is suggested.
(C) A generalization is advanced and supporting evidence is provided.
(D) An example is analyzed and general conclusions are derived from it.
(E) A position is stated and evidence qualifying it is provided.

2. It can be inferred from the passage that the author was unable to assess the truth of which of the following statements about opaque-2 maize?

(A) It is a more recent innovation than the use of fish-protein concentrate.
(B) It can be stored as easily as other varieties of maize.
(C) It is more popular than the wheat-rye hybrid triticale.
(D) It produces tortillas of greater protein content than do other varieties of maize.
(E) It is more susceptible to insects than are other varieties of maize.

3. The passage mentions all of the following as factors important to the success of a new food crop EXCEPT the

(A) practicality of storage of the crop
(B) security of the crop yield
(C) quality of the crop’s protein
(D) cultural acceptability of the crop
(E) costs of production of the crop

4. According to the passage, the use of Antarctic krill as a food is an innovation whose future is

(A) basically gloomy but still uncertain
(B) somewhat promising but very tentative
(C) generally bright and virtually assured
(D) tied to the success of opaque-2 maize
(E) endangered by certain technical problems

5. The author suggests that, in most developing countries, extensive government intervention accompanying the introduction of a food innovation will

(A) usually be sufficient to guarantee the financial success of the innovation
(B) be necessary to ensure that the benefits of the innovation will be spread throughout the society
(C) provide the incentive necessary to convince landowners to try the innovation
(D) generally cost the country more than will be earned by the innovation
(E) normally occur only when the innovation favors large landowners

6. It can be inferred from the passage that the author would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements concerning the solution to food shortages in developing countries?

(A) The introduction of technological innovations to reap profits might alleviate food shortages to some degree, but any permanent solution can come only from effective governmental intervention in the socioeconomic system.
(B) Innovations in agricultural technology will be of little help, and perhaps even harmful, in combating food shortages, no matter how well designed they are to suit local circumstances.
(C) Long-lasting solutions will not be found until large landowners adopt improvements that will make production more efficient and thus more profitable.
(D) In order to achieve a meaningful solution to the problem of food shortages, the tastes of the general population must be educated to accept the new food products of modern agricultural technology.
(E) Although a short-term solution to food shortages can be achieved by importing food from other countries, a long-term solution requires a restructuring of the countries’ socioeconomic system.

7. The first paragraph of the passage best supports which of the following statements?

(A) Too much publicity can harm the chances for the success of a new food innovation.
(B) Innovations that produce culturally acceptable crops will generally be successful.
(C) A food-product innovation can be technically feasible and still not be economically viable.
(D) It is difficult to decide whether a food-product innovation has actually been a success.
(E) Triticale will not be a success as a food source for most developing countries.

8. The author provides a sustained argument to support which of the following assertions?

(A) Profitability is neither necessary nor sufficient for a new technology to be adopted.
(B) Profitability is the key factor guiding technological change.
(C) Economic factors and governmental policies strongly influence the ultimate success of any innovation.
(D) Opaque-2 maize is of limited benefit to poor families in developing countries.
(E) Innovations carrying high rewards for big agribusiness groups harm the poor.

9. The primary purpose of the passage is to discuss the

(A) means of assessing the extent of the world food shortage
(B) difficulties of applying technological solutions to the problem of food shortages
(C) costs of introducing a new food technology into a developing country
(D) Anglo-American bias of those trying to alleviate world food problems
(E) nature of the new technological innovations in the area of food production

Highlight to see answers: 1. C 2. E 3. C 4. B 5. B 6. A 7. C 8. C 9. B

Please post your explanations in the comments below!

2 Responses to “World Food Shortage”

Aditya says:

Why the answer to q # 7 is C and not B

Aditya says:

Oh got it…Mentioned in the first para itself!!

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