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Even the requirement that biomaterials processed from these materials be nontoxic to host tissue can be met by techniques derived from studying the reactions of tissue cultures to biomaterials or from short-term implants.

How do I know whether "be nontoxic" is used to describe the "these materials (which the biomaterials processed from)" or the "biomaterials"?

2 Answers 2

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The part "processed from these materials" is a participle phrase modifying the noun biomaterials. It functions like an adverb, and is thus adverbial, telling you what kind of biomaterials the requirement focuses on (the biomaterials that came from processing these materials). If we parse the sentence in question, it can be analyzed in this way:

Even the requirement that biomaterials (processed from these materials) be nontoxic to host tissue can be met by techniques derived from studying the reactions of tissue cultures to biomaterials or from short-term implants.

Another way to understand the relationship between the noun "biomaterials" and the participle phrase is to rephrase it with a relative clause:

Even the requirement that biomaterials which are processed from these materials be nontoxic to host tissue can be met by techniques derived from studying the reactions of tissue cultures to biomaterials or from short-term implants.

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Subjunctive be is used because we're not talking about something that is non-toxic to host tissue but about something that is required to be non-toxic to host tissue.

In your sentence, the subject of the that-clause is biomaterials processed from these materials, which can be understood as a variant of

... biomaterials [which are] processed from these materials

Those particular derivative biomaterials are the subject of be.

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