Pulp Friction: Timed Reading
This is a multiple-choice reading exercise. You have 12 minutes to read the text and answer the questions.
Much of Canada's forestry production goes towards making pulp and paper. According to the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, Canada supplies 34% of the world's wood pulp and 49% of its newsprint paper. If these paper products could be produced in some other way, Canadian forests could be preserved. Recently, a possible alternative way of producing paper has been suggested by agriculturalists and environmentalists: a plant called hemp.
Hemp has been cultivated by many cultures for thousands of years. It produces fibre which can be made into paper, fuel, oils, textiles, food, and rope. For centuries, it was essential to the economies of many countries because it was used to make the ropes and cables used on sailing ships; colonial expansion and the establishment of a world-wide trading network would not have been feasible without hemp. Nowadays, ships' cables are usually made from wire or synthetic fibres, but scientists are now suggesting that the cultivation of hemp should be revived for the production of paper and pulp. According to its proponents, four times as much paper can be produced from land using hemp rather than trees, and many environmentalists believe that the large-scale cultivation of hemp could reduce the pressure on Canada's forests.
However, there is a problem: hemp is illegal in many countries of the world. This plant, so useful for fibre, rope, oil, fuel and textiles, is a species of cannabis, related to the plant from which marijuana is produced. In the late 1930s, a movement to ban the drug marijuana began to gather force, resulting in the eventual banning of the cultivation not only of the plant used to produce the drug, but also of the commercial fibre-producing hemp plant. Although both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp in large quantities on their own land, any American growing the plant today would soon find himself in prison -- despite the fact that marijuana cannot be produced from the hemp plant, since it contains almost no THC (the active ingredient in the drug).
In recent years, two major movements for legalization have been gathering strength. One group of activists believes that ALL cannabis should be legal -- both the hemp plant and the marijuana plant -- and that the use of the drug marijuana should not be an offense. They argue that marijuana is not dangerous or addictive, and that it is used by large numbers of people who are not criminals but productive members of society. They also point out that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol or tobacco. The other legalization movement is concerned only with the hemp plant used to produce fibre; this group wants to make it legal to cultivate the plant and sell the fibre for paper and pulp production. This second group has had a major triumph recently: in 1997, Canada legalized the farming of hemp for fibre. For the first time since 1938, hundreds of farmers are planting this crop, and soon we can expect to see pulp and paper produced from this new source.
How long does it take for 100 hectares of rainforest to be destroyed?
- less than two minutes
- about an hour
- two hours
- a day
Why is pulp and paper production important to Canada?
- Canada needs to find a way to use all its spare wood.
- Canada publishes a lot of newspapers and books.
- Pulp and paper export is a major source of income for Canada.
Who is suggesting that pulp and paper could be produced without cutting down trees?
- the logging industry
- the government
- the environmental lobby
Why was the plant hemp essential to world-wide trade in the past?
- Ships' ropes were made from it.
- Hemp was a very profitable export.
- Hemp was used as fuel for ships.
- Hemp was used as food for sailors.
Why do agriculturalists think that hemp would be better for paper production than trees?
- It is cheaper to grow hemp than to cut down trees.
- More paper can be produced from the same area of land.
- Hemp produces higher quality paper.
When was hemp production banned in Canada?
Why was hemp banned?
- It is related to the marijuana plant.
- It can be used to produce marijuana.
- It was no longer a useful crop.
- It was destructive to the land.
What chemical ingredient of cannabis plants is a powerful drug?
True or false: Some activists believe that both marijuana and hemp should be legal.