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The European Union offers farmers incentives in the form of economic subsidies, tax breaks, or low-interest loans to encourage landscape preservation and the maintenance of a viable and sustainable agricultural system.
This answer choice makes correct use of Parallelism. Note that this question has three lists:
1. economic subsidies, tax breaks, or low interest loans (nouns)
2. landscape preservation and maintenance (nouns)
3. viable and sustainable (adjectives)
This answer choice unnecessarily changes the meaning and logic of the original sentence.[[snippet]]
By changing the original parallel construction of two nouns (landscape preservation and maintenance) to a parallelism of two verbs (encourage and maintain), the corrected sentence changes the meaning and logic of the original sentence.
Whereas in the original sentence maintenance is the object of the verb encourage (to encourage...preservation and maintenance), in the corrected sentence to maintain is the object (or purpose) of the loans (loans ...to encourage and maintain. This may not seem like a radical change of meaning but getting money for someone to do something versus getting money to encourage someone to do something may be very different activities.
In addition, this answer choice unnecessarily changes the adjective economic to economical. While these words sometimes have the same meaning, economical can also signify avoiding waste, or being efficient. Therefore changing economic to economical is both unnecessary and confusing.
This answer choice is grammatically incorrect. Verb+ing (preserving, maintaining) can be used as a noun or an adjective replacement only when there's no actual noun. Since in this sentence there are real nouns - preservation, maintenance - they should be used.
Changing the adjective sustainable to an adjective with a Verb+ing form sustaining, is not only incorrect because of the change of form; this also changes the original meaning of the sentence:
A sustainable...agricultural system is a system that is able to be sustained, e.g. by not depleting resources or causing environmental damage. A sustaining agriculture system is a system that is able to sustain something else. e.g. by feeding lots of people.
There is also the meaning change from the plural subsidies, tax breaks, and loans to their singular forms. According to the original sentence, the European Union offers more than one of each. In this sentence the 'an' can be read as a single unit and not as a general concept.
While this answer choice is grammatically correct, it violates the parallelism of the original sentence, thereby changing its meaning and making it illogical.
The original sentence has two lists of nouns:
1. economic subsidies, tax breaks, low-interest loans
2. preservation, maintenance
In the corrected sentence, the nouns loans and maintenance are changed to verbs lends and maintains.
This creates a new parallel structure for the sentence, by creating a new list of three verbs: offers, lends, maintains. The result is illogical, because the European Union (the subject of the sentence) does not itself maintain agricultural systems. Farmers do this. The Union encourages them with the incentives.[[snippet]]
This answer choice is grammatically incorrect and illogical. By changing the adjective economic to the noun economics, the corrected sentence unnecessarily uses a noun rather than an adjective to describe a noun.
Note: While it is true that a noun can sometimes be used as an adjective (e.g an economics professor = a professor of economics), here economics would only make sense if used to describe the professional or theoretical field of economics (like mathematics). In the original sentence, however, economic subsidies does not refer to the field of economics. Therefore the original adjective economic is the only grammatically correct and logical choice, and the change is entirely unnecessary.