Gerald F. Combs, Jr. From: ARS Home
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of
in-house research agency. Our job is finding solutions to agricultural
problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. Here are a
few numbers to illustrate the scope of our organization:
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Questions 61-65 are based on the following passage。
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Some of the world’s most significant problems never hit
headlines.One example comes from agriculture. Food riots and hunger make
news. But the trend lying behind these matters is rarely talked about.
This is the decline in the growth in yields of some of the world’s major
crops.A new study by the University of Minnesota and McGill University
in Montreal looks at where, and how far, this decline is occurring。
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The authors take a vast number of data points for the four most
important crops: rice, wheat corn and soybeans(大豆). They find that on
between 24% and 39% of all harvested areas, the improvement in yields
that tood place before the 1980s slowed down in the 1990s and 2000s。
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There are two worrying features of the slowdown. One is that it has
been particularly sharp in the world’s most populous(人口多的)
countries, India and China. Their ability to feed themselves has been an
important source of relative stability both within the countries and on
world food markets. That self-sufficiency cannot be taken for granted if
yields continue to slow down or reverse。
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Second, yield growth has been lower in wheat and rice than in corn
and soyabeans. This is problematic because wheat and rice are more
important as foods, accounting for around half of all calories consumed.
Corn and soyabeans are more important as feed grains. The authors note
that “we have preferentially focused our crop improvement efforts on
feeding animals and cars rather than on crops that feed people and are
the basis of food security in much of the world。”
The report qualifies the more optimistic findings of another new
paper which suggests that the world will not have to dig up a lot more
land for farming in order to feed 9 billion people in 2050, as the Food
and Agriculture Organisation has argued。
We live in a virtual sea of wheat. North Dakota leads the nation in
growing it. Around the world wheat is grown on more land area than any
other crop. It has been cultivated for some 8000 years, and its
availability as a staple is thought to have been a major contributor to
the development of civilizations in Europe and parts of Asia and
Africa. Indeed, wheat is an important food grain in our diets.
Instead, it says, thanks to slowing population growth, land
currently ploughted up for crops might be able to revert(回返)to forest
or wilderness. This could happen. The trouble is that the forecast
assumes continued improvements in yields, which may not actually
Of course, we don’t eat wheat in the form it comes from the field. We
make the grain into a seemingly endless variety of breads, cakes and
pastas. We eat it in the morning hot from the griddle or flaked and
covered with milk or yogurt, as snacks at work breaks, for lunch as
tortillas or sandwiches spread with meat or cheese or peanut butter, for
dinner as pizza or pasta dressed with tomato sauce or cheese and
vegetables, and sweetened for desert. We eat wheat foods to celebrate
birthdays and weddings, when we have guests and also just to feel good.
To make these many foods, the whole wheat kernel must be broken into
tiny particles that can be readily hydrated to release the proteins and
carbohydrates that give cohesion to the final products. This process of
milling goes back as far as wheat cultivation itself. Originally, it
involved pounding the dry kernels with a wooden hammer; this evolved
into the use of mill stones that were turned by the power of humans or
animals or falling water.
61.What does the author try to draw attention to?
It was the availability of water power that attracted in the 1850’s New
England millers, the Washburns and Pillsburys, to what is now
Minneapolis where they established water-powered flour mills at St.
Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River. There, mills had ready access
to the superior bread wheat abundant in the upper Midwest. However, the
millers found it difficult to separate the dark bran particles from the
wheat kernel’s white, starchy center; so their stone-milled product had
grayish color. The problem was solved by installing European steel
roller mills and other machinery to grind finely and sift out the dark
bran components. With a location that allowed shipping by rail to the
east and down river to New Orleans and abroad, Minneapolis became the
milling capital of the world for the latter half of the nineteenth
century. All of this was made possible by the ability to produce a
pure, fluffy, white flour of unmatched quality.
A)Food riots and hunger in the world. C)The decline of the grain
White flour is white largely because other parts of the grain, the
darker bran and the germ, have been removed. That makes it easier to
chew, easier to digest and easier to keep without refrigeration.
Removal of those parts leaves the kernel’s starchy center, the
endosperm, and yields a fluffy, white flour that makes light and airy
breads and pastries.
B)News headlines in the leading media. D)The food supply in populous
Most white flours represent only 72 percent of the original whole
grain. The milling away of those other portions of the grain results in
the removal of valuable nutrients that the wheat plant puts into the
bran and germ. Those nutrients include iron, several vitamins and
fiber. For this reason, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration permits
refined flour to be “enriched” with several nutrients that are lost in
milling (iron, and the vitamins thiamin, niacin and riboflavin) and
mandates that most enriched wheat flours, breads, noodles and macaroni
also be fortified with the vitamin folic acid.
62.Why does the author mention India and China in particular?
Whole wheat flour is made by milling 100 percent of the kernel into a
powder. Very similar whole grain products are made by recombining the
separated milling fractions in the proportions originally present in the
whole kernel. These are similar in appearance. Both are good sources
of dietary fiber.
A)Their self-sufficiency is vital to the stability of world food
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest a daily intake of 2-3
servings of grain-based foods, or about half of the present national
average. They specifically call for half of that intake being whole
grain products, and for limiting daily intake of refined grain products,
particularly those high in solid fats and/or added sugars such as cakes,
cookies, donuts and other desserts.
B)Their food yields have begun to decrease sharply in recent years。
Whole grain flours can be used in most cases instead of refined flours.
Whole wheat breads are made with whole grain flour comprising at least a
portion of the dough. Studies in the Minneapolis public schools found
that groups of bona fide pizza experts – middle schoolers – eagerly
accepted pizzas made with dough made from as much as 70 percent whole
grain wheat flour. The development of white wheat varieties has allowed
bakers to produce whole grain products that are virtually
indistinguishable from breads made using refined, white flour.
C)Their big populations are causing worldwide concerns。
It pays to choose whole grain foods. They give you what your grandma
might have called “roughage” but what health professionals call dietary
fiber. Americans consume about half the recommended amounts of dietary
fiber (25 grams for women, 38 grams for men). Studies show that that
consumption of 2-3 daily servings of whole grain products was associated
with 20-30 percent reductions in risks to cardiovascular disease and
type 2 diabetes, and also to reduce risks to colorectal cancer or