An overpopulation of earwigs, a kind of parasite that eats corn silk, has led to the destruction of many corn plants in the United States. Because of this, there was an unusually low harvest of corn this year. The wholesale price of corn sugar has increased significantly and does not look likely to fall in the foreseeable future. As a result, the retail price of ethanol is certain to increase within six months. 

The answer to which of the following questions would provide information relevant to evaluating the claims made in the argument above?

  1. Have the prices of other ingredients in ethanol decreased recently?
  2. What percentage of corn plants in the US were affected by the parasite?
  3. Can the parasite be eliminated within the next six months?
  4. Has the price of corn remained steady during other periods of poor harvest?
  5. Are consumers willing to spend more for ethanol?


Question type: Evaluate

Difficulty level: Hard

Summary of the argument: decrease in corn harvest has led to increase in price of corn sugar, this would surely lead to higher prices of ethanol (which uses corn sugar as an ingredient). 

  1. This is important since even though the price of corn sugar goes up, ethanol production would involve other ingredients and include costs for other processes which could vary. 
  2. Percent of affected plants is irrelevant to price of ethanol 
  3. This would not affect the prices of ethanol in the next six months. 
  4. Irrelevant since we would still not know whether that would have significance in the current context. 
  5. This is out of scope since we are not bothered about customer sentiment here. 

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