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Amazon is selling thousands of banned, unsafe, and mislabelled products, report shows
The world's largest retailer has evolved "like a flea market," according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
- The report found more than 4,000 listings for products deemed to be unsafe, banned or mislabelled.
- These products included mislabelled pain relievers, dangerous children's toys, and helmets that had failed federal safety tests.
- There are some steps you can take to avoid buying unsafe or counterfeit products from Amazon.
You order a product on Amazon. It's eligible for Amazon Prime. It ships from an Amazon warehouse, and it's delivered in an Amazon-branded box. But there's a good chance that product actually comes from one of Amazon's third-party sellers, some of whom sell products that are mislabelled, banned or unsafe, according to a new investigative report from The Wall Street Journal.
The report found 4,152 products on Amazon that have been "declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labeled or are banned by federal regulators — items that big-box retailers' policies would bar from their shelves." Some of these included:
- Items falsely marked as "FDA-approved," including an eyelash-growth serum.
- Listings for the pain reliever oral benzocaine that lacked labels warning not to administer to children under age 2.
- More than 1,400 electronics listings that falsely claimed to be UL certified, meaning the product met voluntary safety standards.
- Listings for toys that include magnetic balls, which Amazon explicitly prohibits, and which the Consumer Product Safety Commission has called a "substantial product hazard."
- Listings for helmets that had failed federal safety tests.
The Journal said it reported these listings to Amazon, which then removed or altered the wording for 57 percent of the listings.
"There are bad actors that attempt to evade our systems," an Amazon spokesperson said, "should one ever slip through, we work quickly to take action on the seller and protect customers."
But Amazon, the world's largest retailer, seems unable to effectively police its massive marketplace. The report describes how Amazon has evolved "like a flea market," exercising "limited oversight over items listed by millions of third-party sellers, many of them anonymous, many in China, some offering scant information." What's more, dozens of the dangerous or mislabelled products in the new report carried the "Amazon's Choice" label, which arguably implies that Amazon endorses the item.
How do these products slip through the cracks? One likely reason is rapid growth. In 2018, about 60 percent of physical merchandise sold came from Amazon's 2.5 million third-party sellers, up from 30 percent a decade ago. The report also describes how Amazon's "overriding corporate philosophy of offering ever more options is clashing with internal efforts to make sure product listings won't harm buyers, the Journal found in interviews with former employees and others close to Amazon's safety practices, and from internal records."
Things to keep in mind when shopping on Amazon
"Prime" doesn't mean it's not mislabelled, unsafe, banned or counterfeit.
"Just because a Prime logo is present doesn't mean it's sold by Amazon," Fred Dimyan, the co-founder of Potoo Marketing, told AOL.com. "In actuality, any of Amazon's 3 million marketplace sellers can use the Amazon warehouse to house and ship their items and get the so-called 'coveted' mark on its products."
Neither does "Fulfilled by Amazon."
The Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) program allows third-party sellers to send products to Amazon warehouses, where the company then handles all aspects of sale, warehousing, and shipment. But, due in part to the fast-moving nature of the Amazon shipping process, "counterfeits can be commingled with authentic products, and not even Amazon (apparently) can easily determine where they came from," as Forbes reported.
It's generally safest to buy from reputable brands
Consider limiting your purchases "exclusively to products sold by the brands themselves, either by way of them selling on Amazon's platform directly, via an authorized account, or by way of a partnership with Amazon, as Calvin Klein, for instance, recently began doing," Julie Zerbo wrote on the Fashion Law blog.
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A recent study on monkeys found that stimulating a certain part of the forebrain wakes monkeys from anesthesia.
- Scientists electrically stimulated the brains of macaque monkeys in an effort to determine which areas are responsible for driving consciousness.
- The monkeys were anesthetized, and the goal was to see whether activating certain parts of the brain would wake up the animals.
- The forebrain's central lateral thalamus seems to be one of the "minimum mechanisms" necessary for consciousness.
Pixabay<p>When the team electrically stimulated a part of the brain called the central lateral thalamus, located in the forebrain, the monkeys woke up: they opened their eyes, blinked, reached out, made facial expressions and showed altered vital signs. </p><p>"We found that when we stimulated this tiny little brain area, we could wake the animals up and reinstate all the neural activity that you'd normally see in the cortex during wakefulness," Saalmann told Cell Press. "They acted just as they would if they were awake. When we switched off the stimulation, the animals went straight back to being unconscious."</p><p>This area of the brain may function as an "engine for consciousness," Redinbaugh told Inverse. Although past studies have shown that electrical stimulation can arouse the brains of humans and animals, the new findings are unique because they reveal which specific neural interactions appear to be minimally necessary for consciousness.</p><p>"Science doesn't often leave opportunity for exhilaration, but that's what that moment was like for those of us who were in the room," Redinbaugh told <a href="https://www.inverse.com/science/first-squid-mri-study-brain-complexity-similar-dogs" target="_blank"><em>Inverse</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Future applications<p>The team said the findings could have many applications down the road, but more research is needed.</p><p>"The overriding motivation of this research is to help people with disorders of consciousness to live better lives," Redinbaugh told Cell Press. "We have to start by understanding the minimum mechanism that is necessary or sufficient for consciousness, so that the correct part of the brain can be targeted clinically."</p><p>"It's possible we may be able to use these kinds of deep-brain stimulating electrodes to bring people out of comas. Our findings may also be useful for developing new ways to monitor patients under clinical anesthesia, to make sure they are safely unconscious."</p>
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
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