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  The True Cost of Food

  A For more than forty years the cost of food has been rising. It has now reached a point where a growing number of people believe that it is far too high, and that bringing it down will be one of the great challenges of the twenty first century. That cost, however, is not in immediate cash. In the West at least, most food is now far cheaper to buy in relative terms than it was in 1960. The cost is in the collateral damage of the very methods of food production that have made the food cheaper: in the pollution of water, the enervation of soil, the destruction of wildlife, the harm to animal welfare and the threat to human health caused by modern industrial agriculture.

  B First mechanisation, then mass use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, then monocultures, then battery rearing of livestock, and now genetic engineering — the onward march of intensive farming has seemed unstoppable in the last half-century, as the yields of produce have soared. But the damage it has caused has been colossal. In Britain, for example, many of our best-loved farmland birds, such as the skylark, the grey partridge, the lapwing and the corn bunting, have vanished from huge stretches of countryside, as have even more wild flowers and insects. This is a direct result of the way we have produced our food in the last four decades. Thousands of miles of hedgerows, thousands of ponds, have disappeared from the landscape. The faecal filth of salmon farming has driven wild salmon from many of the sea Iochs and rivers of Scotland. Natural soil fertility is dropping in many areas because of continuous industrial fertiliser and pesticide use, while the growth of algae is increasing in lakes because of the fertiliser run-off.

  C Put it all together and it looks like a battlefield, but consumers rarely make the connection at the dinner table. That is mainly because the costs of all this damage are what economists refer to as externalities: they are outside the main transaction, which is for example producing and selling a field of wheat, and are borne directly by neither producers nor consumers. To many, the costs may not even appear to be financial at all, but merely aesthetic — a terrible shame, but nothing to do with money. And anyway they, as consumers of food, certainly aren’t paying for it, are they?

  D But the costs to society can actually be quantified and, when added up, can amount to staggering sums. A remarkable exercise in doing this has been carried out by one of the world’s leading thinkers on the future of agriculture, Professor Jules Pretty, Director of the Centre for Environment and Society at the University of Essex. Professor Pretty and his colleagues calculated the externalities of British agriculture for one particular year. They added up the costs of repairing the damage it caused, and came up with a total figure of £2,343m. This is equivalent to £208 for every hectare of arable land and permanent pasture, almost as much again as the total government and EU spend on British farming in that year. And according to Professor Pretty, it was a conservative estimate.

  E The costs included: £120m for removal of pesticides; £16m for removal of nitrates; £55m for removal of phosphates and soil; £23m for the removal of the bug cryptosporidium from drinking water by water companies; £125m for damage to wildlife habitats, hedgerows and dry stone walls; £1,113m from emissions of gases likely to contribute to climate change; £106m from soil erosion and organic carbon losses; £169m from food poisoning; and £607m from cattle disease. Professor Pretty draws a simple but memorable conclusion from all this: our food bills are actually threefold. We are paying for our supposedly cheaper food in three separate ways: once over the counter, secondly through our taxes, which provide the enormous subsidies propping up modern intensive farming, and thirdly to clean up the mess that modern farming leaves behind.

  F So can the true cost of food be brought down? Breaking away from industrial agriculture as the solution to hunger may be very hard for some countries, but in Britain, where the immediate need to supply food is less urgent, and the costs and the damage of intensive farming have been clearly seen, it may be more feasible. The government needs to create sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food sectors, which will contribute to a thriving and sustainable rural economy, and advance environmental, economic, health, and animal welfare goals.

  G But if industrial agriculture is to be replaced, what is a viable alternative? Professor Pretty feels that organic farming would be too big a jump in thinking and in practices for many farmers. Furthermore, the price premium would put the produce out of reach of many poorer consumers. He is recommending the immediate introduction of a ‘Greener Food Standard’, which would push the market towards more sustainable environmental practices than the current norm, while not requiring the full commitment to organic production. Such a standard would comprise agreed practices for different kinds of farming, covering agrochemical use, soil health, land management, water and energy use, food safety and animal health. It could go a long way, he says, to shifting consumers as well as farmers towards a more sustainable system of agriculture.

  Questions 14-17

  Reading Passage 2 has seven paragraphs, A-G.

  Which paragraph contains the following information?

  Write the correct letter, A-G, in boxes 14-17 on your answer sheet.

  NB You may use any letter more than once.

  14 a cost involved in purifying domestic water

  15 the stages in the development of the farming industry

  16 the term used to describe hidden costs

  17 one effect of chemicals on water sources

  Questions 18-21

  Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 2?

  In boxes 18-21 on your answer sheet, write

  YES if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer

  NO if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer

  NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

  18 Several species of wildlife in the British countryside are declining.

  19 The taste of food has deteriorated in recent years.

  20 The financial costs of environmental damage are widely recognized.

  21 One of the costs calculated by Professor Pretty was illness caused by food.

  Questions 22-26

  Complete the summary below.

  Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

  Write your answers in boxes 22-26 on your answer sheet.

  Professor Pretty concludes that our 22………are higher than most people realise, because we make three different types of payment. He feels it is realistic to suggest that Britain should reduce its reliance on 23………… .

  Although most farmers would be unable to adapt to 24…………, Professor Pretty wants the government to initiate change by establishing what he refers to as a 25…………… . He feels this would help to change the attitudes of both 26…………and………


  Question 14


  关键词:cost/ purifying domestic water

  定位原文: E段第1句: “£23m for the removal of the bug…”

  解题思路: 解这道题的窍门是首先在题干上发现cost一词,可以推测出这一段一定会大谈金钱。这样只要到文中寻找钱的符号集中出现的段落就可以了,很容易就找到了E段,接着找到对应语句,选出答案。

  Question 15


  关键词:stages/farming industry

  定位原文: B段第一句: “First mechanisation...”

  解题思路: 此题解题窍门是要了解题干中的stages在文中的体现。这个信息表明该段会讲工业化农业的发展阶段。复数表明不止一个阶段,既然是发展那么就会有时间标志词出现。当考生扫读完A段到达B段的时候,就会发现first一词,接着会发现then,第二个then,第三个then,最后找到now。尽管stage一词并没有出现,但是mechanisation, mass use of chemical fertilisers, monocultures, battery rearing of livestock和genetic engineering都是农业发展的具体体现,考生不难看出这个题对应的是B段。

  Question 16


  关键词:term/hidden costs

  定位原文: C段第2句、第3句: “externalities... outside the main transaction... To many, the costs may not even...”

  解题思路: C段提到:the costs of all this damage are what economists refer to as externalities,由此可分析出这个术语便指的是externalities (外部经济效应),作者紧接着在后面解释了这些代价被称为外部经济效应的原因,即它们不在主要交易过程之中,如生产或是出售一块地里的小麦,同时它们也不是由生产者和消费者直接来承担的。hidden一词在文中没有出现,但是从上面的文字中不难看出来,那些代价或损不是人们所能直接看到的,是隐蔽的。所以答案是C段。

  Question 17


  关键词:effect/chemicals water sources

  定位原文: B段最后一句“...the growth of algae is increasing in lakes…”

  解题思路: 在B段第二句会发现but the damage it has caused,了解到文章开始讲工业化农业的影响了,damage与effect含义等同,接着找下去,在B段倒数第一行找到: the growth of algae is increasing in lakes because of the fertiliser run-off. fertiliser run-off指的是化肥的渗出(化肥当中所含的各种化学元素,在流入河川之后,会造成水中藻类的大量增生),lakes对应水源,故答案是B段。

  Question 18


  关键词:British countryside

  定位原文: B 段第三句:“In Britain, for example…” 例如,在英国,许多深受人们喜爱的农田鸟类,比如云雀、灰山鹑、麦鸡和黍鹀,还有更多的野花和昆虫,都已经从乡村大片的土地上消失了。

  解题思路: 先利用Britain将此题定位到文章B段,接着找到上面这句话,考生可以了解有一些鸟类、 野花和昆虫都已经消失了,不同的几个物种都在面临着消失的尴尬境地。由此可以推知,英国乡下野生物种的数量的确是在下降。vanish虽然不能够和declining直接等同,但是两者所表达的本意都是相同的,都是指物种的减少,故此题答案应该选YES。

  Question 19



  定位原文: B段后半段

  解题思路: 没有发现哪句话提到食物味道变糟糕,甚至连food一词都没有看到,因此已经可以判断这是个完全没有被提及的NOT GIVEN题。

  Question 20

  答案: NO

  关键词:financial costs

  定位原文: C段首句:“Put it all together and it looks like…”

  解题思路: 由以上C段中的内容可知,虽然我们的土地已经被工业化农业破坏得像个战场般满目疮痍,但消费者在吃饭的时候却很少能联想到这些,更别说将这些破坏用金钱来衡量了。由此可推知,人们还没有广泛地认识到环境破坏所带来的经济代价。文中的rarely和To many...not...与题干中的widely相互矛盾。由此可知答案是NO。

  Question 21

  答案: YES

  关键词:Professor Pretty, illness

  定位原文: E段相对应数字处:“ ...£169m from food poisoning;...”

  解题思路: food poisoning指食物中毒,在用Professor Pretty的名字定位到E段之后,考生会发现这一段在列举农业的隐形开销,只要找到illness caused by food的对应成分food poisoning就可以了。Pretty教授的确计算了因食物引起的疾病就医的花销。

  Question 22

  答案:food bills/costs


  定位原文: E段倒数第2句: “Professor Pretty draws a simple but...”

  解题思路: 根据空前的our确定空中要填名词,后面的形容词是higher。higher可以对应文中的threefold(三倍);because we make three different types of payment 也可以和threefold相对应。注意不要填成单数。

  Question 23

  答案:(modern) intensive farming

  关键词:Britain/reduce its reliance on

  定位原文: F 段第2句: “Breaking away from industrial agriculture …”

  解题思路: 空前有介词on,证明空中要填名词。原文中作者说对于一些国家来说,摆脱工业化农业生产方式的同时也解决饥饿问题是件很困难的事情,但在英国,对粮食的需求并非如此紧迫,并且现代化的密集型农业所耗费的成本和造成的损失清晰可见,放弃现代化农业是可行的。言外之意就是说英国现在太依赖intensive farming了,而要放弃intensive farming是可行的。所以空中应该填写:intensive farming。

  Question 24

  答案: organic farming


  定位原文: G 段第2、3、4句: “Professor Pretty feels that... Furthermore…He is recommending …”

  解题思路: 原文中的 organic farming would be too big a jump in thinking and in practices for many farmers意为“对于许多农民来说,有机农业在思想上和实践上都是一个很大的跨越”,言外之意就是说许多农民都很难适应有机农业,在意思上与24空所在的半句相对应,所以24空应该填organic farming。

  Question 25

  答案:Greener Food Standard


  定位原文: G 段第2、3、4句: “Professor Pretty feels that... Furthermore…He is recommending …”

  解题思路: 25空只需要向下寻找,找到教授的名字,再找到不定冠词a,很快就能找到正确答案Greener Food Standard,即他希望政府能马上制定“绿色食品标准”

  Question 26

  答案:farmers, consumers

  关键词: both...and...

  定位原文: G段最后1句: “It could go a long way...”

  解题思路: 教授觉得上述计划会帮助改变26...和...的态度。分析题目的结构可知,这里要填并列关系的两个名词。文中句子里的shift可以与题目中的change相对应,文中as well as连接的便是两个并列成分,符合题目的结构,由此可知答案是farmers和consumers。也可以颠倒顺序填写。