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The technique, described in Cell on 5 July1, allows researchers to study crucial events in the first few days of development without genetically altering the embryos, which has previously restricted the use of some imaging techniques in human embryos, owing to ethical concerns.

Source: Nature

What is the antecedent of "which" here? It seems to me to be the fact of "genetically altering the embryos" that raises ethical concerns. I am not absolutely sure.

What is your opinion?

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  • That sentence makes no sense to me. "Genetically altering embryos" cannot be the antecedent because "altering" cannot "restrict". Nothing before "which" is a non-human noun that can "restrict".
    – gotube
    Jul 12, 2023 at 1:35

1 Answer 1

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You are right , "which" refers to genetic alteration of human embryos.

But if you say "He installed something without reading the operating instructions," followed by :

  1. "which were written in Chinese"
  2. "which is not recommended",

The first "which" refers to the "operating instructions",
The second "which" refers to "without reading the operating instructions" or to all text preceding the "which".

But, in Nature text, the problem is that "which" don't refer to "without ... altering ...".

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