The promise of finding long-term technological solutions to the problem of world food shortages seems difficult to fulfill. Many innovations that were once heavily supported and publicized have since fallen by the wayside. The proposals themselves were technically feasible, but they proved to be economically unviable and to yield food products culturally unacceptable to their consumers.
One characteristic common to unsuccessful food innovations has been that, even with extensive government support, they often have not been technologically adapted or culturally acceptable to the people for whom they had been developed. A successful new technology, therefore, must fit the entire social cultural system in which it is to find a place. Security of crop yield, practicality of storage, and costs are much more significant than previously been realized by the advocates of new technologies.
The adoption of new food technologies depends on more than these technical and cultural considerations; economic factors and governmental policies also strongly influence the ultimate success of any innovation. Economists in the Anglo-American tradition have taken the lead in investigating the economics of technological innovation. Although they exaggerate in claiming that profitability is the key factor guiding technical change—they completely disregard the substantial effects of culture—they are correct in stressing the importance of profits. Most technological innovations in agriculture can be fully used only by large landowners and are only adopted if these profit-oriented business people believe that the innovation will increase their incomes. Thus, innovations that carry high rewards for big agribusiness groups will be adopted even if they harm segments of the population and reduce the availability of food in a country. Further, should a new technology promise to alter substantially the profits and losses associated with any production system, those with economic power will strive to maintain and improve their own positions. Therefore, although technical advances in food production and processing will perhaps be needed to ensure food availability, meeting food needs will depend much more on equalizing economic power among the various segments of the populations within the developing countries themselves.
1. The passage mentions all of the following as factors important to the success of a new food crop except the ___.
A. practicality of storage of the crop.
B. security of the crop yield.
C. quality of the crop’s protein.
D. cultural acceptability of the crop.
2. The author suggests that, in most emerging countries, extensive government intervention accompanying the introduction of a food innovation will ___.
A. usually be sufficient to guarantee the financial success of the innovation.
B. be necessary to ensure that the benefits of the innovation will be spread throughout the society.
C. normally occur only when the innovation favors large landowners.
D. generally cost the country more than will be earned by the innovation.
3. The first paragraph of the passage best supports which of the following statements?
A. Too much publicity can harm the chances for the success of a new food innovation.
B. Innovations that produce culturally acceptable crops will generally be successful.
C. A food-product innovation can be technically feasible and still not be economically viable.
D. It is difficult to decide whether a food-product innovation has actually been a success.
4. The author provides a sustained argument to uphold which of the following assertions?
A. Profitability is neither necessary nor sufficient for a new technology to be adopted.
B. Profitability is the key factor guiding technological change.
C. Economic factors and governmental policies strongly influence the ultimate success of any innovation.
D. Innovations carrying high rewards for big agribusiness groups harm the poor.
5. The primary purpose of the passage is to discuss the ___.
A. means of assessing the extent of the world food shortage.
B. difficulties of applying technological solutions to the problem of food shortages.
C. costs of introducing a new food technology into a developing country.
D. nature of the new technological innovations in the area of food production.