ACT Reading Apr. 2017 74F - Passage II

Questions 11-20 are based on the following passage.

SOCIAL SCIENCE: Passage A is adapted from !he book Apple: A Global History by Erika Janik (©2011 by Erika Janik). Passage B is adapted from the article "The Fatherland of Apples• by Gary Nabhan (©2008 by The Orion Society).

Passage A by Erika Janik

In early September of I 929, Nikolai Vavilov,
famed Russian plant explorer and botanist, arrived in
the central Asian crossroads of Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan.
Climbing up the Zailijskei Alatau slopes of the Tian
5 Shan mountains separating Kazakhstan from China,
Vavilov found thickets of wild apples stretching in
every direction, an extensive forest of fruit coloured
russet red, creamy yellow, and vibrant pink. Nowhere
else in the world do apples grow thickly as a forest or
10 with such incredible diversity. Amazed by what he saw,
Vavilov wrote: 'I could see with my own eyes that I had
stumbled upon the centre of origin for the apple.'

With extraordinary prescience and few facts,
Vavilov suggested that the wild apples he had seen
15 growing in the Tian Shan were in fact the ancestors of
the modern apple. He tracked the whole process of
domestication to the mountains near Alma-Ata, where
the wild apples looked awfully similar to the apples
found at the local grocery. Unfortunately, Vavilov's
20 theory would remain mostly unknown for decades.

Exactly where the apple came from had long been
a matter of contention and discussion among people
who study plant origins. Vavilov, imprisoned by Joseph
Stalin in 1940 for work in plant genetics that chal-
25 lenged Stalin's beliefs, died in a Leningrad prison in
1943. Only after the fall of communism in Russia did
Vavilov's theory, made more than half a century earlier,
become widely recognized.

As Vavilov predicted, il's now believed that all of
30 the apples known today are direct descendents of the
wild apples that evolved in Kazakhstan. Apples do not
comprise all of Kazakhstan's plant bounty, however. At
least 157 other plant species found in Kazakhstan are
either direct precursors or close wild relatives of
35 domesticated crops, including 90 per cent of all cultivated
temperate fruits. The name of Kazakhstan's
largest city, Alma-Ata, or Almaty as it is known today,
even translates as 'Father of Apples' or, according to
some, 'where the apples are'. So this news about the
40 apple's origins was probably no surprise to residents,
particularly in towns where apple seedlings are known
to grow up through the cracks in the pavements. The
apple has been evolving in Central Asia for upwards of
4.5 million years.

Passage B by Gary Nabhan

45 Nikolai Vavilov is widely regarded as the world's
greatest plant explorer, for he made over 250,000 seed,
fruit, and tuber collections on five continents. Kazakh
conservationist Tatiana Salova credits him with first
recognizing that Kazakhstan was the center of origin
50 and diversity for apples. "It is not surprising," she concedes,
"that when Vavilov first came to Kazakhstan to
look at plants he was so amazed. Nowhere else in the
world do apples grow as a forest. That is one reason
why he stated that this is probably where the apple was
55 born, this was its birthing grounds."

Discerning where a crop originated and where the
greatest portion of its genetic diversity remains extant
may seem esoteric to the uninitiated. But knowing
where exactly our food comes from-geographically,
60 culturally, and genetically-is of paramount importance
to the rather small portion of our own species that regularly
concerns itself with the issue of food security. The
variety of foods that we keep in our fields, orchards,
and, secondarily, in our seed banks is critically impor-
65 tant in protecting our food supply from plagues, crop
diseases, catastrophic weather, and political upheavals.
Vavilov himself was personally motivated to become an
agricultural scientist by witnessing several famines
during the czarist era of Russia. He hoped that by com-
70 bining a more diverse seed portfolio with knowledge
from both traditional farmers and collaborating scientists,
the number of Russian families suffering from
hunger might be reduced.

In a very real sense, the forests of wild foragers
75 and the orchards of traditional farmers in such centers
of crop diversity are the wellsprings of diversity that
plant breeders, pathologists, and entomologists return
to every time our society whittles the resilience in our
fields and orchards down to its breaking point.

80 And whittle away we have done. Here in North
America, according to apple historian Dan Bussey,
some 16,000 apple varieties have been named and nurtured
over the last four centuries. By 1904, however, the
identities and sources of only 7,098 of those varieties
85 could be discerned by USDA scientist W. H. Ragan.
Since then, some 6,121 apple varieties-86.2 percent of
Ragan's 1904 inventory-have been lost from nursery
catalogs, farmers' markets, and from the American
table.

 
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