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


Question 11 The author s use of the words and phrases thickets, stretching in every direction, and extensive forest (lines 6-7) in Passage A most nearly serves to emphasize which of the following points?