By Gabriella Rutherford
In what its chairperson deemed "one of the most difficult decisions the board has ever made," the Hawai'i Board of Land and Natural Resources last week approved construction of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on top of Mauna a Wakea (Mauna Kea).
The decision has been met with fierce criticism.
For the Kanaka Maoli Peoples, Mauna a Wakea is a sacred center, as much an ancestor as it is a home of deities. Created by their forbearers, the sky god Wakea and the Earth mother Papa, the 4,000-meter mountain is a place of unique spiritual connection between the Kanaka Maoli and their ancestors. It is in many ways a living temple, a site of numerous shrines and ceremonies and an important burial ground.
The Kanaka Maoli also believe the Mauna a Wakea mountain plays an integral role in Hawaii's water cycle, and use the water collected at its summit for healing and ceremonial practices. They fear these practices could be disrupted by the construction of the TMT and the concomitant possibility it brings of water pollution.
Twelve other telescopes have already been constructed on Mauna a Wakea, which has led to "substantial, significant and adverse" effects on local biodiversity as well as on the Kanaka Maoli cultural, archaeological and historic resources on the mountain.
All this did not, however, provide sufficient reason for the board to scrap the project. They found that the TMT would neither unduly interfere with ceremonial practices—which they note do not take place on the exact site of the TMT—nor would it adversely affect the landscape, given the presence of numerous other local observatories currently in operation. They similarly rejected arguments regarding the threat of water-pollution and environmental damage, pointing to the zero-waste management policy that is to be adopted by the TMT and the annual sum the latter will contribute to environmental conservation in the area.
The board was further anxious to reassure the public that by attaching myriad conditions to the permit construction, they would be able to limit and make up for any environmental damage occasioned, as well as protecting and even helping promote indigenous culture. Additionally, they said that building what they described as "the world's most advanced telescope" on Mauna a Wakea was a fitting homage to the Kanaka Maoli's traditional astrological dependence for the purposes of navigation. As such, they concluded that the TMT was "a project that honors Mauna Kea rather than injures it."
However, we should be cautious before joining the board in celebrating this decision as a "fitting and fair" solution that deftly reconciles tensions between scientific progress and indigenous culture. Clearly their stipulations are not derisory: as recompense for the cultural impact, the TMT will contribute an annual $1 million "community benefits package" (CBP). Similarly, a condition for the construction of TMT is that three other telescopes on the mountain will be decommissioned and no new ones will be built. Despite this, given the unavoidable environmental destruction that will be caused across the extensive 5-acre area during the TMT's construction, many of the concessions appear surprisingly paltry. Likewise, while the CBP promises much in name, it is yet to be seen what real positive effects it would bring for the community. Is this, as TMT petitioner Clarence Kūkauakahi Ching noted on social media, "all smoke and mirrors!?"
For its opponents, one thing is clear: however much the board is keen to paint this decision in a positive light, this, moving forward with the TMT does not represent an example of "science and culture synergistically existing" as the board has led the public to believe. To Kahookahi Kanuha, co-founder of Hawaii Unity and Liberation Institute, the decision marks another instance of the Hawaiian state having "once again shown themselves to be incapable of protecting, conserving and managing Hawaiʻiʻs unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources."
Thirty Meter Telescope protest, Oct. 7, 2014. Local police stand in the background as Mayor Billy Kenoi talks with Hawaiian cultural practitioner, Joshua Lanakila Mangauil, Kahookahi Kanuha and other protectors. Occupy Hilo
Kanuha and others are adamant that the decision jeopardizes cultural and national identity and indeed the Kanaka Maoli's very "humanity as a people." As such, it is a decision that calls for immediate action. As he noted on social media, "We have once again been left with no choice but to resist and to take matters back into our own hands. Though it will not be easy, we will organize, strategize and exercise our un-relinquished rights and claims to our national lands. Any attempts by TMT, the illegitimate State of Hawaii or the University of Hawaiʻi to ascend Mauna Wakea will be met with peaceful, non-violent resistance."
The extent of the struggle the Kanaka Maoli have on their hands cannot and should not be underestimated, but there are reasons for optimism. It should be remembered that opponents have successfully stalled the project before, and in some respects, the board's decision only puts the TMT project back before protestors halted the telescope's construction in April 2015. That December, following sustained pressure, The Supreme Court of Hawaii ruled in favor of indigenous and environmental activists, revoking the telescope's first construction permit. Opposition groups will undoubtedly mount a further legal challenge and seek to appeal this decision in the supreme court, affording a final opportunity for the Hawaiian state to reverse its decision and ultimately, as Kanuha would assert, "make the right decision for Hawaii."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Intercontinental Cry.
You can't discount the importance of your gut health. Research shows that the microbiome within your digestive system has a disproportionate impact on how well your whole body functions.
Unfortunately, bad diets, the overuse of antibiotics, and other stressors mean many of our digestive systems are in trouble. Probiotic supplements claim to solve this problem by replenishing your gut with the healthy bacteria it needs for optimal functioning. Here, we'll analyze the popular probiotic brand Seed to determine whether its supplements are worth taking.
How We Review Probiotics
Whenever we review a probiotic supplement, we evaluate six specific categories.
- Number of active strains - How many types of bacteria are included?
- AFU (Active Fluorescent Units)/ CFU (Colony Forming Units) - These units of measurement tell you how many billions of bacteria are estimated to be within each supplement dose.
- Storage Requirements - Some probiotics are shelf-stable, while others require refrigeration.
- Ingredient Transparency – does the company disclose where it sources its active strains and provide clinical research for their efficacy?
- Value - How are the probiotics priced? Can you purchase them without an auto-ship program?
- Sustainability - Does the company show ways its supplements are better for the environment through sustainable ingredient sourcing or packaging?
Let's evaluate these criteria for Seed.
About Seed Probiotics
Seed is an e-commerce supplement brand with a single product—the DS-O1 Daily Synbiotic probiotic. The company got its start in 2018 when cofounders Ara Katz and Raja Dhir determined that the current probiotic supplements available weren't hitting the mark.
Katz's experiences of pregnancy and breastfeeding as a new mom led her to develop a deeper appreciation of the body's microbiome and its role in overall health. She joined forces with Dhir, who had the scientific experience to understand what could be improved within the probiotic industry.
Together, they strove to create a supplement that "raised the bar on bacteria" by giving the body what it needed for all its systems to operate most effectively. They collaborated with a large team of entrepreneurs, artists, and scientists to develop a probiotic known as DS-01 Daily Synbiotic.
The Seed DS-01 Daily Synbiotic
- Active Strains - 24
- AFU - 53.6 billion AFU
- Storage Requirements - Shelf-stable for 18 months after opening
- Ingredient Transparency - Clinical data available for each strain
- Sustainability - First order ships in reusable glass canisters and subsequent orders arrive in compostable biofilm.
- Value - $49.99/60 supplements (30-day supply subscription)
The DS-01 Daily Synbiotic is a broad-spectrum probiotic that combines 24 probiotic strains with a non-fermenting prebiotic concentrate of Indian pomegranate for better delivery. Of these strains, 23 are human-derived, and one is isolated from fruit and added to promote healthy cholesterol levels.
These strains work synergistically to support the 38 trillion bacteria that make up your microbiome. They will purportedly help the body digest food, minimize inflammation, and better synthesize nutrients.
This supplement contains four distinct probiotic blends:
- Digestive Health/ Gut Immunity/ Gut Barrier Integrity: 37.0 Billion AFU
- Dermatological Health: 3.3 Billion AFU
- Cardiovascular Health: 5.25 Billion AFU
- Micronutrient Synthesis: 8.05 Billion AFU
(See strain-specific studies here)
How It Works
With these multiple strains, the company claims to take a 'Microbe-Systems Approach' through microbes that impact specific physical functions beyond the digestive system. These include skin and heart health, better immune system functioning, and micronutrient synthesis.
In other words, DS-01 goes beyond digestive issues to support full-body health. The company claims it's even one of the first probiotic formulations able to synthesize folate and increase its production.
Seed's DS-01 Daily Synbiotic probiotic also stands out with its delivery system. The supplement utilizes "nested capsule technology" along with a patented algae delivery system. This two-in-one capsule design houses the probiotic formula within a prebiotic casing made from Indian pomegranate to ensure these fragile bacteria survive both sitting on store shelves and the perilous journey through stomach acid to your colon.
Through this method, Seed claims to average a 100% delivery rate of the probiotic's starting dose to your colon. According to internal testing, DS-01 probiotics will exceed the living cell counts listed on the label even after ten days of constant 100º F exposure.
Adults can take two Seed probiotic supplements per day, preferably at the same time. It's best you do so on an empty stomach to limit the capsule's exposure to digestive enzymes that start to break it down. However, those with sensitive stomachs may want to eat something first. While you'll get optimal results from taking the supplements daily, it's not a problem if you occasionally skip one.
If you're new to probiotics, start by taking one per day for the first three days and then increasing your dosage to two per day. You may feel its effects on your digestive system within 48 hours, though long-term improvements to the cardiovascular system take more time and might not be noticeable to you.
Seed probiotics don't need require refrigeration. They are shelf-stable for 18 months at temperatures up to 78℉ and are safe to take when expired. Just note that the company can't guarantee their potency at this point.
How to Buy
Seed DS-01 Daily Synbiotic probiotics are only available on a subscription basis. They cost $49.99 per month and ship free throughout the US (international orders include a $10 shipping fee).
You will receive a 30-day supply (60 capsules) when you order through the company website, and the first order includes a reusable glass canister and travel vial. Each subsequent order arrives in compostable biofilm so you can transfer the capsules to the reusable ones.
All first orders are covered by a 30-day risk-free trial, during which you can return the probiotics for a full refund. It's possible to cancel the subscription at any time by contacting customer service at [email protected].
Note: At publication, these probiotics were sold out. They are available for pre-order and expected to ship again in 2-4 weeks.
What We Like About Seed
As a product within the largely unregulated supplement industry, Seed broad-spectrum probiotics earn major points from us for both transparency and abundant clinical research. The company shares detailed information about every bacterial strain within the supplement and links out to the scientific studies highlighting their effectiveness.
Customer reviews on Facebook and other review sites show that Seed probiotics work as described for many users. Some shared they experienced positive improvements in their digestive system within 48 hours and noticed better-looking skin within a month.
Those with allergies or food sensitivities will also appreciate these supplements are soy-free, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, and free of binders and preservatives.
From a consumer standpoint, Seed makes taking probiotics simple. The shelf-stable formula means you won't have to store them in the fridge, and each 30-day supply is guaranteed to remain viable for 18 months after opening. Likewise, the nested capsule delivery system should improve how many billions of bacteria make it into your digestive system intact.
Equally noteworthy, we love Seed's commitment to environmental sustainability. By sending each customer two reusable glass containers at the start of their subscription, the company minimizes the packaging waste for each subsequent order.
What We Don't Like
Despite these positives, Seed broad-spectrum probiotics have some downsides. To start, they are pricier than many competitors. You will pay $1.66 per day's dose, which is more than some want to pay for supplements.
It's also not possible to try them without committing to a monthly subscription. While it will take several weeks or longer to start noticing their effects, some customers might not want to be locked into an auto-ship program so early in the experimenting process.
Likewise, some customer reviews complained of unexpected side effects such as breakouts and rashes. It's not clear whether these went away for users after a few weeks of use.
Finally, it's currently only possible to pre-order these supplements. If you're dealing with digestive distress today, you may want to try a probiotic brand that's available right now for faster relief.
Seed Safety & Side Effects
Seed DS-01 Daily Synbiotics are considered safe for adults over 18. Each supplement is vegan and free of common allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, and corn. They have undergone extensive third-party testing and adhere to the highest global regulatory standards for safety.
As with all probiotics, you might notice unpleasant side effects when you start taking them. Many people experience bloating, increased gas production, constipation, and other gastrointestinal problems for the first few days.
This can be discouraging, as many users take probiotics precisely to combat these symptoms in the first place. However, your system should adjust to the new bacteria within two weeks, and this digestive distress should diminish accordingly.
The DS-01 Daily Synbiotic is classified as safe for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding, although the company recommends speaking with a medical professional before starting them. As will all probiotics, you should not take these supplements if you have a weakened immune system, recently underwent surgery, or if you have a serious illness. Speak with your doctor before starting any dietary supplement if you have concerns or questions.
Takeaway: Are Seed Probiotics Worth It?
The Seed DS-01 Daily Synbiotic is well-formulated and shows clinical evidence of improving your gut biome for far-reaching health benefits. The company solves the tricky problem of selling a live product with its innovative delivery system that keeps the bacteria within the supplement safe both on the shelf and through the digestive process.
If you are dealing with digestive problems, or are looking for a way to improve your general health, then this broad-spectrum probiotic might be one worth trying.
Just keep in mind that you might feel worse for a few days before the microbes will take full effect in your gut and that giving it a try means you are committing to a monthly subscription.
Lydia Noyes is a freelance writer specializing in health and wellness, food and farming, and environmental topics. When not working against a writing deadline, you can find Lydia outdoors where she attempts to bring order to her 33-acre hobby farm filled with fruit trees, heritage breed pigs, too many chickens to count, and an organic garden that somehow gets bigger every year.