Small RC

Ragwort was accidentally introduced to New Zealand in the late nineteenth century and, like so many invading foreign species, quickly became a pest. By the 1920s, the weed was rampant. What made matters worse was that its proliferation coincided with sweeping changes in agriculture and a massive shift from sheep farming to dairying. Ragwort contains a battery of toxic and resilient alkaloids: even honey made from its flowers contains the poison in dilute form. Livestock generally avoid grazing where ragwort is growing, but they will do so once it displaces grass and clover in their pasture. Though sheep can eat it for months before showing any signs of illness, if cattle eat it they sicken quickly, and fatality can even result.

The passage suggests that the proliferation of ragwort was particularly ill-timed because it

A) coincided with and exacerbated a decline in agriculture
B) took place in conditions that enabled the ragwort to spread faster than it otherwise would have done
C) led to an increase in the amount of toxic compounds contained in the plants
D) prevented people from producing honey that could be eaten safely
E) had consequences for livestock that were more dramatic than they otherwise would have been

For the following question, consider each of the choices separately and select all that apply.

The passage implies which of the following about the problems ragwort poses to dairy farmers?

• Milk produced by cows that eat ragwort causes illness in humans who drink it.
• Ragwort can supplant the plants normally eaten by cattle.
• Cattle, unlike sheep, are unable to differentiate between ragwort and healthy grazing.

Sing wang

Posted Apr 21, 2020

1 Explanation


Gravatar Adam Lyons, Magoosh Tutor

The first question is best dealt with by the process of elimination.

A) The passage mentions "sweeping changes in agriculture," but no decline.
B) The first two sentences suggest that ragwort naturally spreads quickly, and there were no special circumstances in New Zealand that allowed it to spread any faster.
C) It's true that ragwort contains toxins, but again this is true of ragwort in all times and places.
D) The passage does not mention people in New Zealand eating honey at all.
E) This is our answer. The passage states that sheep are more resilient than cattle. New Zealand was undergoing a significant shift away from sheeping and towards more dairy cattle. This makes the rise of ragwort particularly ill-timed.

We'll look at each choice of the second question as well:

A) The passage does not mention illness in humans at all. Honey may contain toxins, but even then it is not stated that they are strong enough to make a human sick.
B) This choice is true, based on this sentence: "Livestock generally avoid grazing where ragwort is growing, but they will do so once it displaces grass and clover in their pasture." Ragwort displaces grass and clover, which livestock typically eat.
C) Cattle are livestock, and it is said that livestock will avoid grazing where ragwort is growing. So this is false.

Apr 24, 2020 • Comment

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