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Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow.
 
In recent years, Malaysia's fruit orchards and market gardens have been enjoying bountiful harvest and consequently the export of fruit and greens has been on the rise. However, there are concerns that the use of pesticides is partly responsible for this success story. Pesticide use has increased by six-fold from 40 million tons in 1978 to 250 million tons in 1993. The import of pesticide has also increased and currently about one billion dollars worth is being imported annually.

Pesticides endanger health. They poison the body because they change the speed of various bodily functions such as the heart rate which may either accelerate or decrease. They may cause cancer - tumors in the liver, pancreas and thyroid that may sometimes affect the reproductive organs. If small quantities are ingested over time, death may not occur but health deteriorates rapidly.

Pesticide contamination occurs in several ways: residue on greens and fruit, leaching of pesticides into the water-table thus affecting the water that we drink, through the air, and through direct contact with the skin.

The use of pesticides in Malaysia is regulated by the Pesticides Board of Malaysia. Its standards are stringent and to date it has banned the use of nine pesticides including DDT where the effects on the environment can last for almost ten years. The Board also sets the maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticide residue on crops and fruit. Farmers are required to adhere to these regulations strictly as well as follow guidelines to allow for a chemical withdrawal period before the produce is harvested. Enforcement also includes checking on the quality of the product in terms of impurities which are present in compounds.

Random checks on samples of greens in various wholesale outlets in the country are carried out by the Health Ministry. A chemical analysis procedure is used and the entire process of a complete analysis can take as long as six hours. MARDI and other bodies are currently conducting experiments on several methods that can detect residue rapidly and at the same time be cost-effective.

Countries importing fresh produce have also stepped up their vigilance. Singaporean authorities, for example, have set up a counter at the Causeway to carry out random checks on vegetable consignments from Malaysia. An order was issued to the effect that from 1 July 1999, if 20% of consignments exceed MRLs within a month, a blanket ban will be imposed on the import of vegetables from that particular country.

While standards may have been stepped up for the export market, there have been many complaints from Malaysians that there does not seem to be similar efforts made on produce for the domestic market. When Singapore, for example, rejected cabbage from Cameron Highlands in 1998, authorities started to check for pesticides in exports but not for vegetables sold locally.

The use of pesticides can be drastically reduced if more environment-friendly methods of farming and integrated pest management are carried out. Thus organic farming and the use of natural predators such as spiders, parasites and other genetically-engineered organisms can be made popular. However, as with pesticides, there are stringent guidelines in deciding whether such biological agents can be brought into the country. At the moment, there is virtually no infrastructure or trained staff to carry out the enforcement.

Farmers, distributors and exporters need to be educated about the use and abuse of pesticides. In this respect, the Health Ministry, the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (FAMA), and the Malaysian Vegetable Farmers Association organized a nationwide roadshow. How successful they are in their efforts remains to be seen but the public would be more assured if enforcement efforts could be stepped up and maintained. After all, farmers are also motivated by the bottom line.

     
  1.

The author states that almost one billion dollars worth of pesticides are being imported. Besides the fact that larger quantities may be imported, what other possible reason could there be for the high cost at the beginning of January 1999?

       
    (A) Other countries are also importing pesticides
    (B) More Malaysians are importing pesticides
    (C) There has been an increase in currency exchange
    (D) The pesticide companies want to make larger profits
       
  2. If farmers do not allow sufficient time for chemical withdrawal, what is the effect on vegetables?
       
    (A) The vegetables become bitter.
    (B) There is residue on the greens.
    (C) The vegetables cannot grow well.
    (D) The residue leaches into the ground.
       
  3.

Which two sentences in paragraph 1 support the inference that enforcement of the regulations concerning pesticide use is difficult?

I Sentences 1 and 2
II Sentences 2 and 3

III Sentences 3 and 4

IV Sentences 4 and 1

       
    (A) I
    (B) II
    (C) III
    (D) IV
       
  4. The chemical analysis procedure currently adopted by the Health Ministry is
       
    (A) costly
    (B) time-consuming
    (C) up-to-date
    (D) laborious
       
  5. The meaning of the blanket ban in paragraph 6 is
       
    (A) temporary ban
    (B) total ban
    (C) widespread ban
    (D) partial ban
       
  6. From the last paragraph, why does the author state that the public would be better assured if enforcement efforts were increased?
       
    (A) The roadshow was a failure.
    (B) Farmers are businessmen and are driven by profit.
    (C) Farmers are convinced that only pesticides can get rid of pests.
    (D) The Health Ministry and FAMA are concerned about the health of the farmers.
       
  7. What is the best title for this text?
       
    (A) Pest Management
    (B) The Use of Pesticides
    (C) Toxic-free Vegetables
    (D) Tackling the Pesticide Problem
       
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  Answers : 1C   2B   3C   4B   5B   6B   7D
 
 
 
 

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